“12 Angry Men” is a movie from the 1950s that delves into a court case. Specifically, the jury that is to decide the fate of young Spanish-American who is being tried for murder. While at first this appears to be an easy case with a clear outcome, the jurors begin to deliberate and have many differences of opinion. Many of the jurors have preconceived notions about each other, and of the man being tried for murder. A guilty verdict could mean the death sentence for the young man, so the jury must remain deliberate and make the right decision. Most of the action in the film takes place in the jury room.
This film makes for a great analysis for group dynamics, as almost the entire film is based around a deliberating jury. Leaders of the group come forward, while others stay back and follow. They have a common goal in mind (to reach a unanimous verdict), but reaching that goal proves difficult. As the film progresses, group members attempt to change the opinion of others. This smaller group uses persuasion tactics and strong senses of leadership to influence the others and change their viewpoint on the trial.
Leadership in the Courtroom
Leadership is very important when it comes to the group of jurors. This group was not very diverse at all, in fact, they were all white males. They each had distinct, unique personalities however. Some of their personalities were more suited for leadership than others. Some were very outspoken and talked a lot, while others were quiet and stayed back to follow the lead. The high stress environment made it difficult for some, while others thrived in this type of setting. For example, when one juror was asked his opinion on the case, he showed a tentative demeanor and poor posture. He also did not speak very loudly when talking in front of the group.
These types of characteristics made him a poor candidate for the leadership role. During the first part of the deliberations, all the men voted for a guilty verdict except for one. That one guy was Juror #8, Mr. Davis. He slowly attempted to persuade others throughout the discussions, and shows devotion for justice. He urges others to be patient and to study the details of the case carefully. Juror #8 slowly emerges as one of the leaders of the group, and displayed many traits that typically make a great leader
The climate of the jury room was very high stress. The members of the jury realized they were dealing with the life of someone. If they convicted the man, he would be sent to the electric chair and receive the death penalty. The case was very serious, and most jurors realized this right away. One member in particular came off as racist, and didn’t seem to care what kind of punishment the defendant got.
Overall, the film just goes to show you how a small majority can use leadership and persuasion techniques to sway the opinion of the majority. It also goes to show you how a group majority mentality can make people apprehensive to give their opinion. It takes time, but the group eventually analyzes the evidence and makes the proper decision.