From mythology to psychology: Identifying archetypal symbols in movies

Huang Ming Chang*, Leonid Ivonin, Marta Díaz, Andreu Català, Wei Chen, Matthias Rauterberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we introduce the theory of archetype, which explains the connection between ancient myths and the human mind. Based on the assumption that archetypes are in the deepest level of human mind, we propose that archetypal symbolism is a kind of knowledge that supports the cognitive process for creating subjective world-view towards the physical world we live in. According to archetypal symbolism, we conducted an empirical study to identify archetypal symbols in modern movies. A new collection of movie clips was developed to represent eight essential archetypes: anima, animus, mentor, mother, shadow, hero's departure, hero's initiation and hero's return, which can be used in future studies on human emotion. In order to investigate the emotions towards these archetypal symbols, we provide suggestions from the psychological point of view. The present study demonstrates how to identify symbolic meanings in movies, and indicates a new direction for future studies in psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalTechnoetic Arts
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Archetypes
  • Human emotion
  • Movies
  • Mythology
  • Psychology
  • Symbolic meaning


Dive into the research topics of 'From mythology to psychology: Identifying archetypal symbols in movies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this