12 Angry Men Constellation of Variables

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  • Topic: Jury, Deliberation, Hung jury
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12 Angry Men
Constellation of Variables

In group communications theory, there are labeling terms for each contributing member of the group, and how the group interacts among one another - the result is group communication. These contributing factors of situation, goals, roles, norms, and cohesiveness make up the constellation of variables. The film 12 Angry Men depicts the constellation of variables. In the film, twelve jurors in a hot room, forced to deliberate the fate of a man accused of murder. The group comes together in an uncomfortable environment and when one of twelve jurors stands against the group, voting not-guilty for reasonable doubt, there is immediate hostility. The situation is there has to be a unanimous vote as to whether the accused man is innocent or guilty of murdering his father. The goal becomes at first to convince one juror that the accused man is guilty – to which after hours of deliberation, the goal is then flipped where 11 believe the man is innocent and 1 believes he is guilty.

Individual goals are goals separate from those which the group needs to achieve together. They are for selfish reasons, a hidden agenda. One juror’s individual goal is he had bought tickets to a baseball game that evening. Another either owned or managed three car washes and wanted to get back to work – he was also extremely racist and wanted to condemn the man to death simply due to his race. Another juror was biased because of his personal life – he saw the accused man as his own son, who he believes is ungrateful and shameful. These selfish purposes set them apart from the other jurors from trying to unanimously reach a decision – it made them distracted and biased in their decision making. They just wanted to leave, to get it over with without giving much thought.

Then there is the role of Devil’s Advocate – the person who argues the other point of view which goes against group think. In the film, the devil’s advocate is played by an older man,...
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