12 Angry Men Analysis

Topics: Jury, Verdict, Jury nullification Pages: 3 (849 words) Published: April 4, 2013
Many interesting principles discussed in social psychology are applicable to everyday situations, current events, and movies. Specifically, the movie “Twelve Angry Men”, written by Reginald Rose, is a 1957 drama that illustrates a prime example of groupthink and the probable effects it can have on a group’s decision-making. In this classic movie, twelve members of a jury are isolated in a conference room to debate the outcome of a murder trial involving a young man stabbing his father. From the first preliminary vote, it becomes clear that eleven of the twelve jury members believe the leading suspect to be guilty, relying heavily on stereotypical views of the slums to support their verdicts. Henry Fondra is the only jury member who is not completely certain about the suspect being guilty, or so it seems. As the movie commences, the eleven men demonstrate several indicators of groupthink as they bond together and work towards convincing Henry Fondra that the suspect is, in fact, guilty. Groupthink can be defined as the “mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive in-group that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action.” (Myers, pp. 169) Rather than carefully examining all factors involved in the case, the majority of the jury members show symptoms of groupthink that are clearly identified in the text “Exploring Social Psychology”. Janis identifies eight indicators that form a collective process of dissonance reduction, which surfaces as group members try to maintain their positive group feeling when presented with a threat.

In the case of the movie, “Twelve Angry Men”, the threat is Henry Fondra. The eleven jury members believe he is delaying the inevitable, but will eventually succumb to agreeing with the majority. Briefly after the meeting begins, the bulk of the group shows excessive confidence in the guilty verdict and is not overly willing to consider the flimsy...

Cited: Myers, David G. “Exploring Social Psychology: Third Canadian Edition” (2012) McGraw Hill Ryerson. Pg. 165-170.
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