12 Angry Men Essay, Research Paper
1. How was leadership defined? How did it change during the course of the group?s interaction?
Leader-follower relationships, in any setting, are complex and often hard to understand. In groups, large or small, the identity and make up of who becomes the leader and who becomes the follower is difficult to explain. In the case of the movie ? Twelve Angry Men? a jury of twelve men serve as the small group. There is the underlying assumption the jury will judge their fellow man fairly and without any personal bias. However the imperfections of man make this process less than perfect. It is here, when emotions and logical are injected into the thought process, that conflict, doubt and questioning of motives start to occur. Only when the leader takes charge do we see his influence and power over the other members of the group start to take place and eventually shift between two individuals.
In the movie, we begin with an appointed leader, the Jury Forman taking charge. When the Forman and jurors left the courtroom they each gave a last glance to the defendant. Once in the jury room they settled into their seats and the conversation would lead one to believe there will be a unanimous vote for conviction. What we saw happen was a shift in leadership from the Forman to one of the members, an architect, in the group. Each of these two men, the Forman and the architect, exhibited different leadership styles. The Forman relied on his legitimate position to exercise his influence for conviction of the defendant. The architect, who was the dissenting vote for conviction, was assumed by the others to be confused. He exhibited a Laissez-faire leadership style, not attempting to dominate the group but rather allowing the jury members to rely on each other for direction. They pressed him to change his vote and asked him to ? tell us what you?re thinking and we?ll tell you where you?re mixed up?. He merely responds by saying he ?wants to talk?. He was able to get each of the other jurors to set aside their personal emotion and biases and to let the facts of the case prevail in their decision making process. During this entire process of group interaction we were able to see that civility encouraged the others to keep listening and that getting to the answer of a complex issue takes time and effort.
2. What functional and dysfunctional behaviors did you see? Use specific Examples.
The functional behaviors of the group came from the two steadfast members of group; the jury foreman, and the architect. The jury foreman?s behaviors were apparent from the beginning of the film. He understood the enormous responsibility of being the foreman and ensuring this group accomplished the goal of obtaining a verdict. The foreman stayed focused and kept the discussion going and wanted all voting procedures to be fair. The architect seem rational and used logic, rational thinking and wanted the others to discuss their way to a unanimous decision. He wanted the jury panel to understand the significance of their actions and to realize their verdict was more important than a baseball game or getting their job done within the hour.
This group had its dysfunctional side as well. The major character displaying dysfunctional behavior was the angry father. His attitude toward the entire was based upon his failed relationship with his own son. It was as if he was deciding the fate of his own son, who he wanted to punish for hurting him. As tension mounted and the vote began to swing towards acquittal the anger. One point became so volatile when the elderly man was holding the switchblade knife in his hand, pointed at the architects heart, and it appeared he could have easily stabbed the architect.
3. What evidence was there of cohesion, and lack of cohesion?
Cohesion is evident in the first scene of the movie, when the jurors cast their first vote. The foreman had asked for a show of hands for a guilty verdict. You see some of the jurors look around the room at the raised hands and then raise their own hand to vote. The fear of disappointing the group is stronger than perhaps their own judgement, except for one dissenting vote.
After the vote was not unanimous for a guilty verdict, each member tried to convince the architect, the dissenting vote, as to why they feel the boy is guilty. Another vote is taken. This time it is done by secret ballot. It is here when the cohesion of the group begins to falter. Little by little as evidence is reexamined and a ?reasonable doubt? is introduced the cohesion of the group begins to weaken. It first starts with reexamine the uniqueness of the switchblade knife. The testimony convinces all the jurors the weapon used was one of kind purchased at a local shop. They are shocked when the architect pulls out the same knife and sticks in the table. Using logic examination of the facts the group once set on conviction and a easy verdict is forced to rethink its initial position. It slowly ends up divided and appear to be headed for a hung jury unable to reach a unanimous decision. Then it eventually comes back together for a unanimous decision. Only this time it is opposite of its original position.
4. What norms exited during the group process? Did any change?
When the group was assembled in the jury room they were polite, organized and civil to each other. They knew what their responsibility was and they collectively were thinking this was a clear-cut case. The expectations held by most of the jury members were that a verdict of guilty would be reached rather quickly and they would all be on their way. Compliance with this norm was first evident with the first vote taken. All but one of the jury members voted for a guilty verdict.
It is expected of all jurors to leave out any personal biases when judging their fellow man. It is also understood that all witnesses told the truth in a court of law. After hearing the testimony of two key witnesses, the jurors are confident of a unanimous guilty verdict. Racial slurs and jokes of the suspects environment are some of the topics of discussion before the first vote. Their behavior is tolerated with in the group and is not challenged.