Analysis of Conformity and Group Influence in Twelve Angry Men

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Analysis of Conformity and Group Influence in Twelve Angry Men

Introduction
The film “Twelve Angry Men” directed by Sidney Lumet illustrates many social psychological principles. The tense, gripping storyline that takes place in the 1950s features a group of jurors who must decide unanimously whether a young man is guilty or innocent in the murder of his father. At the beginning, eleven of the twelve jurors voted guilty. Gradually, through some heated discussion, the jurors are swayed to a not-guilty verdict. Upon examination, the film highlights social psychology theories in areas of conformity and group influence.

Theories and Application
Conformity
Conformity, a change in one’s behaviour or belief to correspond with others (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2009), is without a doubt dangerous in the context of this film. “Twelve Angry Men” exhibits two types of social influences that are the grounds of the jurors’ need to base their decisions on the decisions of fellow jurors in the room: informational social influence and normative social influence. According to informational social influence, one conforms because they believe other’s views or understanding of an uncertain situation is more superior or compelling than their own. Normative social influence states that individuals conform because they have a desire to gain approval and avoid rejection from others.

A classic example of conformity reveals itself right from the beginning of the film after the accused’ trial adjourns. The twelve jurors gather in a small, stuffy room and take a preliminary vote by a show of hands. Normative social influence is characterized by several of the jurors who seemed unsure of their vote but eventually give in to the pressure of the group and vote guilty. Because this vote is taken openly, these individuals perhaps feel inclined to cast their vote with the majority in an effort to avoid appearing deviant. This is particular in the line judgement study done by...
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