12 Angry Men

8 August 2016

The dynamics of group decision-making is the central focus in the film 12 Angry Men. This is one such movie which shows how group dynamics can actually lead to success or failures. 12 Angry Men is a classic movie which was released in 1957. In the movie 12 men are put in one single room to discuss a case and reach a final decision on it. Until they don’t come up with a final decision no one is allowed to leave. Group dynamics is related with the structure and functioning of groups as well as the different types of roles each individual plays.

In the film, twelve men are brought together in a room to decide whether a boy is guilty of killing his father. In the whole movie, each member has been crafted very carefully. He has been given a proper role to play in the group dynamics. The whole spectrum of humanity is represented in this movie, from the bigotry of Juror #10 to the coldly analytical Juror #4.

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Whether they brought good or bad qualities to the jury room, they all affected the outcome. At the outset, without even discussing a single shred of the evidence presented at the trial, 11 members vote the accused as guilty and try to leave the room.

Nobody is actually bothered to think what their decision means for the individual. One is too rigid to change and the other wants to go to his baseball match and doesn’t bother what becomes of the accused. Only one brave juror refused to vote guilty i. e. Juror #8 and ultimately saved an innocent man’s life. He openly admits that he does not know whether the accused is guilty or innocent and that he finds it necessary to simply talk about the case. What follows is not only a discussion of the particular facts of the case, but also an intense examination of the personal baggage that each jury member brings to the room.

Group Development W. R. T the movie 12 Angry Men: Groups have cycles similar to people. They are born, grown, developed and often die. The effectiveness of the group is influenced by the developmental stages and how the members have learnt to work together. 1) Forming In the forming stage, there’s uncertainty about the group’s purpose, structure and leadership. The members basically don’t know what is expected of them. In the movie, the jurors know why they have been gathered and what is expected from them but they were not aware of what was coming next.

They were not sure how they were expected to behave or relate their arguments with that of others. In the beginning of the movie, some of the jurors were disinterested, some wanted to take a quick decision and get out while some were really into the case. But as the movie went on, they all were focusing now on the case because they knew that if they didn’t put their minds on it, they will never be able to leave the room and so by the end they accepted that they were a group and had to work together in order to solve the case.

2) Storming We are well aware of the fact that when two or more individuals come together, there’s probability that conflict might rise. The main objective of this stage is to resolve the conflict in order to get the task assigned done. Individuals have to bend and mould their feelings, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs to suit the group. Because of the discomfort generated during this stage, some members may remain completely silent while others attempt to dominate. Same is the case here.

The jurors are all different individuals and its clear that their opinions and perceptions regarding the case will be different, as each juror observed the case with a distinct perspective. So the conflict is bound to take place between the jurors. Some of the jurors were so dominant they thought their arguments and perception towards the case were absolutely correct. On the other hand, some jurors maintained silence. In order to progress to the next stage, group members must move from a “testing and proving” mentality to a problem-solving mentality.

The most important trait in helping groups to move on to the next stage seems to be the ability to listen. 3) Norming During this stage, the members are willing to change their preconceived ideas or opinions on the basis of facts presented by other members. When members begin to know and identify with one another, the level of trust in their personal relations contributes to the development of group cohesion. Later in the movie, when juror #8 puts forward his arguments and conclusions, other jurors paid attention to it and tried to think over it. Listening to

his arguments, some of the jurors were convinced that there is a probability that the accused might be not guilty. 4) Performing The Performing stage is not reached by all groups. If group members are able to evolve to stage four, their capacity, range, and depth of personal relations expand to true interdependence. By now, the group is most productive. Individual members have become self-assuring, and the need for group approval is past. Members are both highly task oriented and highly people oriented. The task function becomes genuine problem solving, leading toward optimal solutions and optimum group development.

There is support for experimentation in solving problems. In the movie, because of the juror #8’s reasonable doubts and observations, others were influenced too. They raised their doubts and observations which were bothering them. They went through the evidences once again and new observations were made which explained the case better. 5) Adjourning The final stage, involves the termination of the group. The task assigned to the group is completed and the group members can say their goodbyes. At the end of the movie, the jurors came to the decision that the accused is not guilty and that the case should not be closed.

The vote which was to 11 to 1 in the beginning was 12 to 0 by the end. Their task was completed. Group structuring in the movie 12 Angry Men: 1) Leadership The leadership role in group is one of the most important of all group structural characteristics. A leader is the one who directs the members towards the accomplishment of the task. In the movie, Juror #1 tries to impose order in his capacity as Foreman. He plays the role of an “appointed leader” or the individual who is assigned the leader position from the onset.

He is a simple man who clearly did not understand the complexity of the task that lies before him but is trying to do everything not to let anyone else find this out. He appears at ease only once during the film – when he talks about football. He has the misfortune to be selected Foreman of the jury – a task he clearly does not enjoy. Juror #1 can be considered a leader as he was the one who organised the seating arrangements of the jurors and he took care of the papers on which the votes of the individual jurors were written. But he did not direct the members or guided them in any sort of way.

Mainly, juror #8 is the proper leader. He was able to eventually convert the opinions of those initial 11 jurors through his strong leadership. At the outset, he employed a democratic leadership style. That is, he outwardly expressed no adherence to either position, but instead encouraged his fellow jurors to simply discuss the case in an open-minded manner: “I don’t know if I believe (the boy’s story) or not, maybe I don’t. There were 11 votes for guilty and it was not easy for me to raise my hand and sent the boy off to die without discussing it first.

” 2) Roles Every individual plays many roles. There are mainly three roles: Expected, Perceived and Enacted role. (i) Expected The expected role of all the jurors is to play the part of a responsible individual and to study the case thoroughly as their one decision could save a man’s life or put him in the electric chair. (ii) Perceived The perceived role of individuals differs. How the person perceives his role depends on his background, past experiences, etc and on the basis of that he decides how he should behave.

The best example here could be of Juror #3. He is probably the most complex personality in the film. He starts off like a pleasant self-made successful businessman. When he entered the room, he might have perceived that he would easily analyze the case and explain his arguments properly and reasonably. (iii) Enacted The enacted role is how actually the individual behaves. Taking the above example of Juror #3, as time went on he became more and more passionate exploding in disbelieving anger and it seemed somehow he was personally involved with the case.

His motivation for behaving as he does is revealed when he discloses that he’s not on good terms with his own son. Illusions to his animosity toward youth were made when he says that kids today have no respect and that he has not seen his son in over a decade. He namely plays the aggressive and dominator roles. His personal baggage with his own son “blocked” or prolonged the decision-making. 3) Group Size Usually when there is voting involved, group members are tending to be uneven in number. The ideal size of any group is 5-7 members.

For careful deliberation, a group should consist of even members so as to be more effective. In the beginning there was no coordination between them and less communication as it is not possible when a group has many members. But later on, they all participated in the discussion and gave their observations and conclusions. 4) Cohesiveness Cohesiveness refers to the extent of liking each member has towards the others and how far everyone wants to remain with the group. The first half of the movie is based on cohesiveness because each juror except the juror #8 voted the man guilty.

It is assumed that not every juror believed that the man was guilty; there were some who just raised their hand because majority jurors raised their hands voting the accused guilty. Limitations of Group witnessed in the movie 12 Angry Men: 1) Group Norms As said earlier, eleven jurors out of twelve voted the accused guilty and only one juror voted not guilty. Here, the Juror #8, who was the only one to vote not guilty, was forced to support the decisions of the other group members.

The other jurors were trying hard to make him believe that the accused is purely guilty and that he should change his vote to guilty. But juror #8 was adamant and did not change his vote. He said he had a reasonable doubt and that he wanted to hear more arguments regarding the case. He couldn’t vote the accused guilty without any proper and reasonable facts being discussed which would clearly prove that the accused was guilty. 2) Risky Shifts Since it takes a longer time to communicate and reach a consensus in a group, decision making in a group is time-consuming.

Therefore, when groups want to achieve a quick decision, they make riskier decisions than individuals. Since no individual is completely accountable for the decision, members will have a tendency to accept more extreme solutions. The jurors wanted to make a quick decision and close the case then and there. They, without discussing the facts and evidences shown in the courtroom, decided that the accused was guilty. They spoke as if their evidence was unquestionably true and did not attempt to challenge or reappraise the alternatives in any novel way.

Their group decision was much more risky than an individual operating alone would have taken. 3) Polarization When these men first took turns explaining their position, a polarization effect occurred; they gained and added confidence in their position due to strength in numbers and the full range of supportive evidence that comes from collective expression. There was a clear majority group sentiment that was expressed as the eleven focused their attention on Juror #8, the lone dissenter.

The Adman illustrated it well when he said: “It’s up to the group of us to convince (Juror #8) that he’s wrong and we’re right. ” The jurors focused on how to convince juror #8 to vote guilty rather than focusing on the case. 4) Group Think When a group becomes too confident and fails to think realistically about its task, groupthink can occur. The behaviour of those jurors who originally voted guilty showed blatant signs of the limitations of decision-making based on majority processes.

When Juror #8 hypothesized new ways of looking at the facts, the other jurors illustrated their disinterest by playing side games, interrupting him, and shouting “Why is this important?! ” Apparently, they were under the influence of groupthink processes in that they were only interested in information supporting their majority position. They strongly believed that their arguments were accurate and that the accused was guilty. They did not consider paying attention to the doubts raised by juror #8.

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