Communication in 12 Angry Men

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Reginald Rose’s “12 Angry Men” is a testament to the power and productivity of conflict. In the same way that conflict can both help and hinder us, the ego/identity and relational based conflicts, and the competitive and avoidance approaches to conflict interfere with the group coming to consensus, yet at the same time galvanize these 12 angry men. Many of the jurors’ personal biases, often the causes of relational or ego/identity based conflict, constantly undermine the voting. Throughout the entire film, perhaps the most heated source of conflict arises from the group’s perception of that era’s underprivileged youth; they are stereotyped as, criminals, menaces to society, and rebels who don’t respect authority. Beginning of film, discussing the accused murderer’s background, Juror #10 exclaims, “You can’t believe a word they say, you know that, they’re born liars.” He later goes on another tirade insulting “these people,” calling the less fortunate wild, violent, lying, drunks. In addition, when Juror #11 who grew up in the slums, changes his vote, angry Juror #3, declares it “defend your underprivileged brother week.” In these cases, the jurors launch face-threatening attacks, causing conflicts arising from ego/identity issues. In bigoted Juror #10’s case, he heatedly calls the honesty and asdf of the impoverished into question. Angry Juror #11 questions Juror #3’s reasonability. These insults delay the group from coming to consensus as these two jurors continuously insist on their opinions, but towards the end of the film actually serve to bring the group together. Another source of conflict comes from the relational issues between Juror #7, the baseball fan, and Juror #11, the immigrant. Midway through the movie, Juror #7 takes offense to Juror #11’s desire to clarify the definition of “reasonable doubt,” who states that maybe Juror #7 doesn’t understand the term. Juror #7 immediately takes offense, complaining, “They’re all alike, they come here running for...
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