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12 Angry Men

Autor:   •  January 22, 2012  •  Essay  •  959 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,121 Views

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12 Angry Men

In the film 12 Angry Men, group decision-making is the central focus as twelve jurors try to reach a unanimous decision while deliberating after the closing arguments of a murder trial. As the jurors progress through the process, the characteristics of Group Behavior are on display as several of the jurors attempt to influence the decisions of others. This analysis examines the influence techniques used by members of the jury and explains why Juror 8 was so effective in his ability to impact the behavior of others.

One of the weaknesses of group decision-making is pressure to conform. There is a desire for individuals within a group to be accepted and viewed as an asset, and will tend to go along with the group instead of voicing a differing opinion that may make them an outcast. This obstacle to decision-making is seen early in the film. In the initial vote, eleven of the twelve jurors end up with their hands raised signaling a vote for a guilty verdict. However, only six men raised their hands immediately after the question is posed. After a momentary pause where the jurors examined each other to see who’s hands were in the air, Juror 2 slowly raised his hand, setting off a chain of hand raises by Jurors 5,6,7,11,10. Six of the eleven jurors were unsure enough that they were not able to immediately raise their hands. The uncertainty indicates a feeling of doubt as to whether or not the boy was guilty. If “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the burden of proof, and these six men did possess at least some degree of doubt, the fact that they still voted guilty indicates that they were conforming to the group. As the deliberation continued, Juror 8 appealed to the higher values of his fellow jurors by reminding them of their responsibility to uphold this standard.

The stage is set for the jurors to begin trying to influence Juror 8’s decision after he is the sole dissenting vote. Juror 8 uses reason to appeal to the jurors by explaining his reason for not going along with the guilty vote: “There were eleven votes for ‘guilty.’ It’s not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.” His mantra that “It’s possible!” served as a way of instilling to the other jurors that there was reasonable doubt and so the facts needed to be examined more closely. By showing the knife that he had bought while out walking at lunch he was able to get his colleagues’ attention by showing them that the evidence was circumstantial and nowhere near as solid as they all thought. This influenced the group to take a closer look at the other evidence.

One of the symptoms of group think is for members


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