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Running Head: SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT TWELVE ANGRY MEN ANALYSIS

Signature Assignment Twelve Angry Men Film Analysis


Luciana P. Salmi
Salt Lake Community College

TWELVE ANGRY MEN ANALYSIS

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Abstract

Social influence is the exercise of social power by a person or group to change other peoples
views or behavior towards a desired direction. The consequences of social influence can have an
impact on group behavior (Franzoi). The movie twelve angry men is a great example of how the
behavior of a group can be shaped by its members, or in this case, member. The film is about
twelve men selected to perform jury duty for a trial of murder in the first degree. These men are
locked in a room so they can focus in reaching a consensus about the innocence or guilt of the
accused. If these men cannot reach a unanimous decision mistrial is likely to happen. The jury
seemed initially confident about the verdict and self-reliant that they were all in the same page.
Until one man stood up and challenged their beliefs and moral values. This man challenged the
group with educated guesses, social norms and moral values to explore if the decision was the
right one. He utilizes concepts explored in social psychology and group behavior to convince the
group that their initial thoughts were possible inaccurate. Anger, resistance, prejudice,
conformity among other traits is observed until the final decision is made with an opposite result
that left the group perplex.
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Analysis
The Trial Facts

The judge explains the jury in the beginning of the film that it is a trial for murder in the
first degree. The judge makes sure to stress the fact that premeditated murder is one of the most
serious charges in the court. He asks the jury to separate facts from fantasy and decide if there is
reasonable doubt or unanimously decide that the accused is guilty as charged. He also points out
that this case is long and complex.
It is important to notice the attitude of the judge and what we see in the camera frame.
The judge seems to talk in a way as if he knew the result of the verdict beforehand (like if it was
obvious) and the camera shows that there is wrinkled toilet paper on his bench (suggesting he is
sick and probably tired). This subtle attitude or state of mind can possibly influence the jury or
be transferred into a specific mindset. After all we usually trust authority figures (informational
influence) because we believe they may be better informed (Franzoi, 2016 p. 284).
The Lockdown
As the jury stands up to leave the court room and got into seclusion many give one last
glance at the accused which is a skinny wide eyed teenager that looks to be non-white. The jury
then enters a very simple room with a large table and chairs, one wall fan and a place to hang
their coats. The jury starts to get comfortable, open the windows or walk around the room
starting to get to know each other. As explored in out textbook, the process of deliberation is a
series of stages that the group goes through in order to reach a decision. What we observe
initially when the jury starts to move around the room is called the orientation stage (Franzoi,
2016 p. 368).

TWELVE ANGRY MEN ANALYSIS

One of the members starts taking over and organizing the group (without being elected
foreman Jury number 1 takes over). He sets the deliberation to start in five minutes while
everyone gets ready and proposed to do an initial vote by ballot to evaluate where the groups
stands regarding the accused. He also asks the group to sit around the table in order from one
(being the foreman at the head of the table) to twelve. The men rapidly sit and gather to vote. The
initial vote is eleven to one that the accused is guilty. This situation enrages the eleven men who
decided that the accused is guilty. Some get mad; some get aggressive and start arguing with the
jury that decided on not guilty. This is when the discussion stage begins.
The nonconformist is immediately rejected as we have explored in Chapter 7 on social
influence. The foreman asks of the nonconformist to explain why he believed the accused was
not guilty. Most of his reasons were harshly criticized or rejected by the other members. Here,
normative influence (conformity based on possible rewards or punishment avoidance) is the key
to influence the opinion of the nonconformist (Franzoi, 2016 p. 285).
Lets also inspect other factors that may influence peoples thoughts, attitudes and decisions - the
environment. One of the members of the jury points out that it was supposed to be one of the
hottest days of the year. All of these men are hot, sweating, sick and uncomfortable. Many have
plans for later that day and they just want to be over with their duty. All of these personal
preoccupations influence on the group wanting to make a quick decision even though a mans
life is at risk.
The Group Members
Jury number one was the self-imposed foreman. Jury number two did not have a particular
reason why he believed he came to the decision but trusted his gut feeling that the accused was
guilty. Jury number three was the fact checker. He had a list of reasons why he believed the

TWELVE ANGRY MEN ANALYSIS

accused was guilty and was very set on his decision. He has a tendency to get emotional an
aggressive. At some point starts sharing his personal story about his son and how children
sometimes fall far from parents expectations. Jury number four also expressed he believed in
facts. He was mostly non-emotional and did not even break a sweat even with the extreme
conditions. Jury number five seemed insecure and soft spoken. Jury number six believes in
motive. Jury number seven seemed eager to finish and was excited about a baseball game he had
tickets for. He focused in the negative aspects of the accused. Jury number eight was the nonconformist. His demeanor was of someone assertive and thoughtful. He is an architect, most
likely well educated and from a high socioeconomic status. He expresses at all times he does not
know if the accused is guilty or not but rather analyze the evidence carefully in order to make a
well though, fair decision since a mans life is at stake. Jury number nine, older man is not afraid
of expressing his opinions and listened to what others had to say. He was somewhat
discriminated against by the most aggressive members. As if his opinion wasnt good enough.
On the second vote he was the second person to vote not guilty. Jury number ten was a man with
a terrible cold. He was extremely volatile and aggressive and exploded many times during the
discussions. Jury number eleven was a quiet man that slowly started expressing his point of view
as the tendency of the group started to turn towards a not guilty decision. Jury number twelve
seemed like a confident and creative business man that was respectful and expressed opinions
that would benefit the group.
During the discussion stage, the architect (jury number seven) presented several educated
guesses that questioned conclusions that were already made regarding evidence, witnesses and
timeline of the murder. During these heated discussion the sick man (jury number ten) kept
talking about the accused and where he came from. He referred to the accused as these people

TWELVE ANGRY MEN ANALYSIS

as if people with low socio-economic status where a menace to society. He maintained his
prejudicial and discriminating comments until the group got tired of the hate in his words and cut
him off by turning away from him. He then retired to a small table apart from the group.
The votes started to slowly change. The third vote was six to six and the fourth vote was
nine to three. The group followed the lead of the architect during his reenactment of the witnesss
account of the facts. Finally someone mentions the witness lady who apparently saw the murder
take place and the accused killing his father. They realized that the lady failed to mention she
wore glasses which made it unlikely for her to be able to see or distinguish a person from far.
The man that did not sweat (jury number four) realizes of the importance of this specific detail.
Finally the men come to a final vote where the results show eleven to one not guilty. The
last man to vote guilty was the aggressive jury number three. The group asks him to explain
himself and try to convince them why. He starts screaming, emotionally charged that the accused
probably did it. When he tries to reach for his list of facts he comes across the photograph of his
son (which he already shared an emotional story) and starts crying, like a sudden realization that
he is punishing the accused because he reminds him of his son. He quietly changes his vote to
not guilty and the jury is able to leave the room. The men leave exhausted but probably with a
clear mind that they did their best. After the decision is made the decision and implementation
stage are reached (Franzoi, 2016 p. 347).
As discussed in our textbook, the situation observed in the film is not likely in most cases
within our legal system. What actually happens most of the time is that the initial decision of the
jury is the same as their final decision. In most cases the view of the majority is favored and
minority does not represent a strong influence. It is also discussed how the number of the group

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may have an impact on the verdict. First, small groups may not represent the minority; they may
spend less time deliberating and less review of the evidence (Franzoi, 2016 p. 369).
Conclusion
Though there is more evidence pointing out that initial decisions of the jury are most
likely their final decision, this film is a fine example of people taking responsible and educated
decisions. It is important to understand that jury duty is a right and an obligation and a persons
quality of life is on the line. Group behavior is shaped by influences, culture, gender, emotions,
personality and has a tendency to split into a majority-minority shape.
The environment surrounding the group was probably not the ideal for such an important
task. The group members where probably exhausted before they even start to discuss the case. As
discussed in previous chapters, exhausting takes a toll in our mental processes and we are less
likely to make good choices.
Personalities, self-esteem and self-concept influence how we act in a group setting. Many
of the jury members failed to voice their thoughts because it was easier to comply with the
groups view. Fear of rejection can cause a person to remain silent and go against their personal
beliefs (Franzoi, 2016 p. 69-95).
The illusory correlation that the accused was a criminal because he belonged to a specific
area or socioeconomic status adds as a factor to inaccurate attributions. The members of the jury
did not represent a homogeneous group which I believe assisted the group to reduce biases and
allow minority to slowly convince the members that their initial decision was possibly not
accurate. The fact that the nonconformist would remind the group constantly that a persons life
was on the table was a great way to keep the group with societal norms. When you are reminded

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of moral values you are less likely to perform opposite to this views, out of shame or
embarrassment.

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References

Franzoi, S. L. (2016). Social psychology (7th ed.). Redding, CA: PVT Publishing.