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The Emperors Club Reflection Paper

Psych 150

According to the Trait Approach, personality characteristics can be represented along a

continuum which means that people are categorized according to the degree to which they
manifest a particular characteristic. The trait approach of personality assumes that personality is
stable over time and across situations. In the movie The Emperors Club, I can relate Sedgewick
Bells personality to the trait approach since he can be considered as a concrete example of
how the trait approach describes personality.
The movie shows the lives of the characters in a span of 28 years, the first three years
mainly revolving about their lives in St. Benedicts Academy for boys, which can be considered
as a case study in a way. Researches in trait approach basically use the case study method in
studying or finding empirical evidence to support the theory. The plot of the movie is about how
Sedgewick Bell makes Mr. Humbert bent his standards and even his morals. However, if I were
to employ the principles of the trait theory, I could say that the plot is about Sedgewick Bells
unchanged personality.
At the first part of the film, Sedgewick is a happy-go-lucky student who does not even
care if he gets good grades or not. There is a part where Mr. Humbert and Sedgewicks father
knock Sedgewicks senses which changes Sedgewicks study habits. He begins to study hard
which results to his grades improvement. Given with this information, I can say that easygoing
is one of Sedgewicks characteristics.
Sedgewick sudden betterment of academic performance impresses Mr. Humbert so he
bends his rules by choosing Sedgewick over Martin Blythe as the third contestant for the Mr.
Julius Caesar Contest. At the last part of the contest, Mr. Humbert finds that Sedgewick is
cheating, but he refuses to call him out in front of the whole academy. Instead, Mr. Humbert
confronts Sedgewick in his room where no one else is there aside from them. With this incident,

I consider dishonest as one of Sedgewicks characteristics. After the confrontation, Sedgewick

goes back to being happy-go-lucky.
Gordon Allport accepts the notion that ones behavior is affected by various
environmental factors; however ones personality is still consistent. In this movie, Sedgewick is
easygoing at the first part, then becomes serious, then goes back to being easygoing. The
change in Sedgwicks behavior can be caused by what his father said to him when he met Mr.
As for Sedgewicks dishonestly, during the rematch of Mr. Julius Caesar Contest 25
years later, Mr. Humbert catches the now wealthy CEO Sedgewick cheating again. This shows
that Sedgewick still remains dishonest despite the 25 year gap of the two Mr. Julius Caesar
Constests. Therefore, it supports the trait theory of personalitys assumption that personality is
stable over time. In conclusion, that part of Sedgewick personality remains unchanged.
Basically, I can represent some of Sedgewicks personality along a continuum. His
dishonesty is in the negative extreme of the dishonest-honest continuum while his
easygoingness is in the positive extreme of uptight-easygoing continuum.
Another concept from the film that can be related to the trait approach is Henry Murrays
Personal Hierarchy of Needs. Sedgewick Bells personality can be described by his personal
hierarchy of needs. Sedgewick dominant psychogenic need is his need for succorance
(affection between people) because his father seems to not give him enough attention and care.
Because of this, he wants to have the attention of his father so cheats just to win the Mr. Julius
Caesar Contest.
Personally, my take on this movie is that once you grow up doing the things that are not
socially acceptable, you will do those things for the rest of your life. In other words, bad habits

die hard. Another thing is that you cannot really change someone by simply injecting your
morals to them.
As a summary, The Emperors Club is a good movie to indirectly show how the trait
approach theory explains personality.