The social psychology principles that appear in the movie “Invictus”, produced by Clint Eastwood

The social psychology principles that appear in the movie “Invictus”, produced by Clint Eastwood


Invictus is based on SouthAfrica during the period when apartheid was coming to an end. The movie starts with the blacks voting for the first time ever in their country. This is what brings about their liberation and sees Nelson Mandela, after 27 years of imprisonment, take over presidency from the colonialists. It is here that we see a majority of the whites abandon offices to return to their countries, because of a belief that they might be mistreated as a result of change in power. Mandela, just as the wise man he is said to be, instead seeks to find a way to unite the blacks and the whites for a better SouthAfrica. The fact that SouthAfrica is hosting the rugby tournament the following year(1995), gives him a lead, and he decides to use the rugby team as a way to unite the country. Mandela patners up with the captain of the team; who is a little skeptical at first, but later warms up to the president after meeting him. The SouthAfrican team; springboks, have not done well in recent years and is considered part of the apartheid regime by blacks. This creates a bit of a challenge as the blacks do not rally behind them and no one believes in their ability to win the tournament.

Mandela experiences the challenge of trying to convince blacks to let go of the hatred they feel after years of harsh treatment from the whites. At the end, all his struggles bear fruit as the Springboks, cheered on by the whole nation go on to win the tournament. The country is thus united. Racial discrimination also comes to an end, signified by the white policemen on patrol who let a poor black boy listen to the game over their radio, and even lift him up in celebration after their win.

Theories of Social Psychology applied in the movie:

Social Psychology refers to use of scientific methods to study how thoughts, feelings and actions of human beings are influenced by any situation.In my opinion various social psychology theories that are witnessed in the movie include: Behavioral theory, Cognitive theory, Humanist theory and personality theory.

Behavioural theory is basically action based. It refers to someones physical reaction to a condition. It can be viewed as stimulus-response reaction. Cognitive theory on the other hand, compares the human mind to a computer. Through vision and hearing, one recieves information, processes it and determines what to take in and what to ignore. Its’ assumption is based on the fact that people learn more through words and pictures.

According to humanistic theory, one is able to control how they behave. Accordingly, everyone has self drive and choice to choose how much they want to know. Humanists believe free will enables one to mature up to when he achieves full potential. Personality theories look at the patterns in our thought and behaviour that makes us different from each other.

Application of these theories to the movie “Invictus”:

Behavioural theory is applied in a number of scenes in the movie: First, Majority of the whites leave office because a black man has taken over the country. Due to change in power, they feel the need to return to their respective countries for fear of ill-treatment. Another application is the blacks reaction. We see a number of blacks holding a meeting to conspire against the ‘Afrikaaner’, due to the years of suffering they underwent during the white mans regime. Also the rugby teams struggle up until they won the rugby tournament can in a way be considered behaviouristic, the condition being the unity of a raciaaly divided country solely depended on their effort.

Cognitive theory also features greatly in the movie. The first time the rugby captain is set to meet the president. He has heard a great number of remarks even from his own family, opposing the black mans rule. He has also seen the oppressive regime the blacks underwent and has every right to be worried about the whole affair, yet he chooses to still meet the president. Also, despite all those years of being part of a group that had alot of racial remarks about the blacks, he comes out with a positive outlook on the whole idea of patnering with the president to unite the nation. The rugby team even goes as far as interacting with a group of young black boys and teaching them about the game, which comes of as a break through in a country where whites and blacks did not interact.

Humanistic theory is greatly featured in Nelson Mandela himself. This is a man who has been accused of being a terrorist, been thrown in jail for 27 years by the white man, and yet when he is set free and elected president, revenge is the last thing on his mind. His focus tends to be the unity of the country and moving forward in building of the nation from where the white mans regime left. His action signifies the fact that man is truly in control of his actions. That despite the conditions that we are faced with, we still have choice and free will to determine how we act. Mandela had all valid reasons to treat the white man just as savagely as the blacks had been treated, but he chose to forgive and move forward, thereby bringing much needed change to a nation that had been reaped apart by racism.

Our personality determines who we are. From the different behavioural patterns that featured in various characters, we know who they are, in terms of thought and reaction. Mandela’s reaction brought out his great wisdom and courage. The captain of Springboks, Francois Pienaar also comes off as someone who is not discriminative and of great courage and belief. Taking to consideration the fact that he led his team from zero to rugby champions.


Invictus is a brilliant movie that gives insight into Mandelas regime. It simply shows the world one of the brilliant leaders in history. It is like a lesson to those in power, showing how any action can either cause a bridge or a rift in a country. Nelson Mandela is the definition of good leadership. Thus leaders and also aspirants should learn from this one man, who braved all the hostility that was evident when he came in to office, and managed to relieve majority of his people of the hatred and disharmony that was engraved in their hearts. He brought a new meaning to SouthAfrica and its people.