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The Problem Of Groupthink In 12 Angry Men

1102 words - 4 pages

The term groupthink in this report is defined as, the social psychological phenomenon that results in groups during pressure situations. This social psychology theory is broken down into eight signs. Illusion of invulnerability, Collective rationalization, Belief in inherent morality, Stereotyped views of out-groups, Direct pressure on dissenters, Self-censorship, Illusion of unanimity, Self-appointed “mindguards”. According to research conducted by Irving Janis, there are three conditions to groupthink. The first, "high group cohesiveness" which is the direction for a group to be in unity while working towards a goal, or to satisfy the emotional needs of its members. Secondly, the structural faults such as insulation of the group, lack of norms and central leadership, in addition social background of group members. The third, situational context includes the circumstances of the groups meeting, social roles and expected behavior. This notion is exemplified during the movie, "12 Angry Men". The purpose of this essay is to examine the movie content to display the groupthink symptoms in place. Groupthink consists of eight major factors that occur during the film's scenes, as the twelve men debate a premeditated murder court case. All of the factors continue to rise as the jury discusses the young man's fate. During the film, a unanimous vote must be reached, despite this one man refuses to vote guilty. In 1957 the Orson Welles directed film opens as the judge explains the case and its severity. Soon after the group forms as the 12 men enter the jury discussion room. During these scene frames, the case evidence is explained. As the men talk they give details of an old man living beneath the boy testified, that he heard a fight, stating that the boy was shouting, “I’m gonna kill you,” a body hitting the ground, and then he saw the boy rushing down the stairs. The boy later claimed he had been at the movies while his father was murdered, but couldn’t remember the name of the movies or who was in them. A woman living across the street also testified that she saw the boy kill his father through the windows of a passing elevated train. Finally, the boy has a previous record of offenses, including a violent crime with a knife. The remaining chapters will include detailed scene examination of groupthink factors that combine to make this interpersonal phenomenon.

All the men settle down, as the "forming stage" begins with a consensus that this case has been pre-decided as a guilty verdict. Most men in the room mutually agree into the group process of the "storming stage". During the dialogue, the jurors began to take roles as a unanimous vote must be completed before returning. Nearly all juror's opinion points towards a guilty verdict, this symptom is the first groupthink term known as "Illusion of unanimity". A contradiction to this assumed general idea occurred as juror eight votes not guilty. Juror number eight displays another groupthink theory;...

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