12 Angry Men Group Behavior

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  • Topic: Jury, Jury nullification, Hung jury
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  • Published : April 2, 2008
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Group Dynamics in 12 Angry Men

In the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men, group dynamics are portrayed through a jury deliberation. Group dynamics is concerned with the structure and functioning of groups as well as the different types of roles each character plays. In the film, twelve men are brought together in a room to decide whether a boy is guilty of killing his father. The personality conflicts, the joint effort and the functioning of several minds together to search for the truth are just a few characteristics of group dynamics at work. The whole spectrum of humanity is represented in this movie, from the bigotry of Juror No.10 to the coldly analytical No.4. Whether they brought good or bad qualities to the jury room, they all affected the outcome.

At the outset, eleven jurors vote in favor of convicting the accused without even discussing a single shred of the evidence presented at the trial. When a group becomes too confident and fails to think realistically about its task, groupthink can occur. Since it takes a longer time to communicate and reach a consensus in a group, decision making in a group is time-consuming. Therefore, when groups want to achieve a quick decision, as several jurors were eager to do, they make riskier decisions than individuals. Since not any individual is completely accountable for the decision, members will have a tendency to accept more extreme solutions. Only one brave juror refused to vote guilty. Juror #8 refused to fall into the groupthink trap and ultimately saved an innocent man's life. He openly admits that he does not know whether the accused is guilty or innocent and that he finds it necessary to simply talk about the case. What follows is not only a discussion of the particular facts of the case, but also an intense examination of the personal baggage that each jury member brings to the room.

Juror #1 tries to impose order in his capacity as Foreman. He plays the role of 'appointed leader', or the individual who is assigned the leader position from the onset. A simple man who clearly does not understand the complexity of the task that lies before him but is trying to do everything not to let anyone else find this out. He appears at ease only once during the film ' when he talks about football. He has the misfortune to be selected Foreman of the jury ' a task he clearly does not enjoy. Juror #2 is a small, quite man who is clearly unaccustomed to giving his own opinion much less to expecting his views to be of any importance. In his subdued 'observer' and meek 'information giver' role, No. 2 apparently finds comfort in his job ' he is an accountant. Juror # 3 is probably the most complex personality in the film. He starts off like a pleasant self-made successful businessman, analyzing the case impartially, explaining the arguments well and is reasonably self-assured. As time goes on he becomes more and more passionate exploding in disbelieving anger and seems somehow to be personally involved with the case. His motivation for behaving as he does is revealed when he discloses that he's not on good terms with his own son. Illusions to his animosity toward youth were made when he says that kids today have no respect and that he has not see his son in over a decade. No.3 namely plays the 'aggressive', 'dominator' and 'blocker' roles. His personal baggage with his own son 'blocked' or prolonged the decision-making. Yet this overbearing, angry and sadistic man finally deserved our sorrow. Juror #4 is a self -assured, slightly arrogant stockbroker.

He obviously considers himself more intelligent than anyone else in the room, and he approaches the case with cool heartless logic but he does not take into account the feelings, the passions, and the characters of the people involved in the case. No.4 played the role of the coldly, analytical 'information giver.' He ticks off the facts in the case as if he were reading closing stock prices from the newspaper. His studious and ever...
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