12 Angry Men Essay

1475 words - 6 pages

The story begins outside a courthouse in New York City. An 18-year-old boy is being prosecuted for allegedly stabbing his father to death. A weary judge discusses with the jury and informs that they must decide wether or not the boy is guilty of his crime, he also informs that should they find him guilty, he will be sentenced to death. In the beginning, eleven of the twelve jurors find the boy guilty, however, through intense discussion, the remaining eleven are persuaded to a not-guilty verdict. “Twelve Angry Men” highlights many social psychology concepts, specifically: conformity, persuasion, and fundamental attribution.
Conformity is a dangerous mechanism, especially within the presence of a jury room. A major motif throughout “Twelve Angry Men,” the power of normative social influence and informational social influence is evident throughout the deliberation. Normative social influence is defined as: “conforming in order to be accepted or liked by a group, not necessarily because one actually believes the things one is doing or saying.” (Fournier) while informational influence is defined as: “conformity that occurs when a person accepts evidence about reality provided by others” (Bradshaw) In class these concepts were demonstrated in [6-2 & 6-4], the class in 6-2 demonstrated normative influence by holding a conversation with fellow classmates until we were instructed to stop. We were then asked to guess how long the conversations were, as each student answered, the range of numbers became smaller as more students gave lower numbers. Many students conformed because they didn’t want to appear as an outlier and wanted to fit in with the rest of class. An example of normative influence in “Twelve Angry Men” takes place when the jurors take their first vote, most of the men appear hesitant when they cast a guilty vote. Those men who appeared hesitant could be perceived as weak because they succumbed to the majority’s guilty vote.
A few of the jurors entreat to normative influence. A frail man bolsters his position when he decries, “of course he is guilty,” before the men cast their votes. The frail man shouted after Fonda’s deviation, “there always has to be one.” These men try to exploit the power of normative influence by trying to convince all the jurors the boy is guilty. Concurrently, informational influence becomes a major factor in the deliberation process. In class, we demonstrated this concept by reading a story and were asked to answer a series of true or false questions. We were then placed into groups and told to reach a majority decision on the correct answers. Students conformed to answers based on people who claimed they were right because the other answers didn’t make sense logically and only one possibility could exist. We also conformed because of a small time-constraint placed by Dr. Bradshaw.
In our justice system, the courts are overburdened which places an insurmountable amount of pressure on judges, jury’s, and...

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