Persuasion in "12 Angry Men"

Topics: Regulatory Focus Theory, Persuasion, Duodecimal Pages: 3 (1000 words) Published: November 28, 2012
In his article, “The Necessary Art of Persuasion”, Jay Conger stated that persuasion is NOT about selling or convincing; rather, it is a learning and negotiating process. Good persuaders use and listen to ongoing and active discussions (or debates) to learn about their audience and include different opinions into a shared conclusion. In the movie “12 Angry Men”, juror number 8 (Henry Fonda) was not sure if evidence presented against a young defendant in court left reasonable doubt for a guilty conviction. The other jurors believed the presented facts and the defendant’s background warrants a guilty conviction. The movie showed how juror number 8 persuasively got the other jurors to review each fact logically, which led to an unanimous not guilty decision. Conger noted four essential steps use in effective persuasion. The steps will be use to analyze juror number 8 persuasion approach.

The first essential step is establishing credibility with an audience. Conger noted that persuaders, to get support for an idea, have to build trust and confidence with their audience. A person can be persuasive by having a thorough knowledge and understanding of a subject matter OR relationships with people who trust the person’s motives. This is an important first step because people are allowing the persuader to persuade them and are committing time and resources towards the idea. Trust is essential. An audience needs to see and know if the persuader can execute sound judgment honestly.

In the movie, juror number 8 displayed an ability to decipher real facts from questionable facts logically and sensibly when ask about the evidence presented during the trial. His character— unlike juror number 3, who was excitable in a negative way— was calm, approachable and straightforward. He listened to each juror’s opinions about the murder case and spoke respectfully and candidly about the burden of proof to juror number 2 (bank teller). Juror number 8 gained credibility...
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