Examining the Power of Persuasion: a Movie Reivew of 12 Angry Men

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In the movie 12 Angry Men, the 12 men are jurors in a murder trial, and with an exception of about three minutes, the entire movie takes place in a jury deliberation room. The defendant is an 18 year old boy accused of killing his father, and these men are given the duty of deciding unanimously whether the defendant is innocent or guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Once in the jury room, it is suggested that a preliminary vote be taken – all but one juror give a ‘guilty’ vote. I thought it was interesting to note that when the foreman calls for the guilty vote only six men raise their hands right away; the other five slowly raise their hands after looking around at the others. I think many of the jurors voted guilty out of the pressure to conform – it was a good sized group, it seemed like the vote was going to be unanimous, and they had to answer in front of the others. I’m not sure if this would be compliance or acceptance because they may have thought that they believed in what they were doing, but on the other hand their mind was easily changed later. The non-conformist - Juror number 8 (Davis played by Henry Fonda) says that he has reasonable doubt, and can’t decide in five minutes whether or not someone should be sent to the electric chair. The movie proceeds from here; they discuss the case in a roundtable fashion and their intent is to prove Davis wrong. They made statements such as: “Tell us what you’re thinking, and we’ll show you where you’re mixed up” and “It’s up to the group to convince him that he’s wrong and we’re right”. Although their intent was clear, things didn’t go the way they planned. Davis used the central route of persuasion – he used reasoned, rational, and logical arguments that convinced the group to re-consider the evidence they were given. Most of the jurors seemed to be educated men so they were more persuaded by reason versus emotion. There were a couple of incidents where personal prejudice (against the poor) and personal...
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