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12 Angry Men

This movie shows and displays many social psychological events. In the beginning we see the jury of twelve men which would normally lead to a groupthink phenomenon. Group think is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people that show a desire for harmony and conformity within the group. (Myers p. 291) Which would result in an incorrect decision making and wrong outcome, and the incorrect decision would be the life of the boy. In the movie we see eleven jurors finding the boy guilty and only one, juror number eight, finding the boy not guilty. We see the other jurors trying to push juror number eight to conform to the guilty charge.
This movie also shows a rare case of minority influence. This is where a minority of individuals can influence the group. We see this when Henry Fonda, juror number eight, stands up and asks why they find the boy guilty. When giving their answers, some didn’t really know why they found the boy guilty and didn’t support their decision with any facts. This phenomenon is known as normative social influence, this is because they just wanted and were trying to gain approval from the group. I think it is also important to recognize how Fonda shared and stated his opinion to the group. He had confidence; spoke in a gentle manner, never yelling at the other men, which helped grow respect from the other jurors. Also, what really helped in this minority influence was Fonda’s consistency. (Myers p. 299) He kept asking and proving valid points to the other men to understand his view.
We also see examples of group polarization. This is when members of a group tend to not split within the group. (Myers p. 283) We see this in the movie when the jurors are discussing why they think the boy is in fact guilty. For the jurors finding him guilty, this discussion strengthened their views and confidence. Ex: the two eye witnesses, the switch blade and the fact that the boy could not recall the movie he saw that night.
In the movie, what I find to be the very most important part and what gave Fonda the confidence and ability to be able to change the views of the jurors was during the second vote and how they took the vote. In the first vote, they all gave their view orally. It’s no surprise that we saw such a high number of jurors finding the boy guilty. Hearing so many others call out guilty is an example of priming and conformity.
During the second vote, they took the vote down by writing it out on paper, this than gave the feeling of anonymity and a chance for the jurors to change their decision. Being anonymous makes ones less self-conscious and more group conscious and more responsive to cues present in that situation, whether negative or positive. We learned in class and read about this in our textbook. This is a great example of Solomon Aschs’ conformity procedures on group pressure. . (Myers p. 197- 198) Another important event in the movie is we see deindividuation with one of the jurors. Deindividuation is a loss of self-awareness. These people within the group are less restrained, less self-regulated and more likely to act without thinking. (Myers p. 281) We see this when there is another not guilty vote after the second vote. One juror gets up and starts yelling and blaming another juror, when in fact he was wrong.
If it wasn’t for Henry Fonda’s act of leadership and bravery for standing up for what he believed in, the young boy could have been sentenced to death.
Reference:
Myers, David G. (2010) 10e, New York, NY. The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.

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