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Group Decision-Making, Leadership, Influence and Power: Illustrations from the Film “12 Angry Men”

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  • December 2009
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The film “12 Angry Men (1957)” present a diverse group of twelve American jurors brought together to decide the guilt or innocence of a teenaged defendant in a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial case. The film illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of group decision-making, group developmental stages, leadership personality and models, social influence tactics and outcomes, and the bases of social power.

The following advantages of group decision-making were demonstrated in this approximately 90 min black-and-white 1957 film: First is diversity. A pool of varied cultural backgrounds, age groups etc, and different life experiences is a great strength of a group in decision-making. Second is enhanced memory of facts. The combine memory of a number of people is certainly better than that of an individual, and is tremendously advantageous in group decision-making. This was well demonstrated throughout the film in both the argument for and against guilty verdict, culminating in a fair fact-based decision of a “not guilty” verdict. A third and very important advantage is reduced influence of prejudice on final decision. In group decision-making, individual biases can be recognized, challenged and eliminated as demonstrated by the film. Fourthly, another advantage of group decision-making that was shown by this film is the fact that a more creative and innovative solutions to problems could emerge from group deliberations than would in an individual decision making process. Fifthly, there is a collective understanding in group decision-making. The members together reach a decision after deliberation and discussions, so that everyone understand better how and why the decision and what action to be followed. For instance, the film ended without the foreman or anyone actually announcing what verdict was to be taken to the judge. It was obvious to every member.

A major disadvantage of group decision-making that was very obvious from the “12 angry men” is...

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