Group Dynamics of the Movie 12 Angry Men Thesis

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Despite the fact that they were all men and mostly all white, the group of jurors in the film 12 Angry Men were still quite diverse. The group consisted of many personality types: leaders, followers, analytic thinkers, prejudice thinkers, truth seekers, jokers, and bullies. They all held different positions, some of power such as Juror #4 (E. G. Marshall) who was a wealthy stockbroker, and others of little power, such as Juror #5 (Jack Klugman) who grew up as a poor Jewish boy living in the slums. There was also diversity in age, such as the foreman (Martin Balsam) who was referred to as a kid and Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeny) who was an elderly man. There was little diversity in terms of cultural background; however, there was one man, Juror #11 (George Voskovec), who recently immigrated from Germany and Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeny) who had a Jewish upbringing.

Question Two

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Several forms of leadership were demonstrated among the jurors. The foreman (Martin Balsam) was appointed to be the leader of the jury; however, he demonstrated few leadership qualities. Then there was Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) who assumed a leadership role. He had a short temper and bullied those who did not agree with him. We later discovered that he was abandoned by his son and had strong negative feelings towards young people. This anger is what fuelled his beliefs that the boy was guilty and he tried desperately to make the other jurors side with him. Finally, Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) became a leader, despite the fact that no one agreed with him in the beginning. He encouraged the group to realize the seriousness of the decision they were making and to scrutinize the evidence, looking at it from all possible angles. He remained calm throughout the movie, despite the many personal attacks he encountered, and encouraged conflict resolution and negotiation among members of the jury. He did not force his leadership role the way Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) did, he simply wanted to make sure the boy had a fair trial.

TOPIC: Thesis on Group Dynamics of the Movie 12 Angry Men Assignment

Leadership roles changed hands throughout the course of the movie. The foreman was the leader in the beginning, but for a very brief period. He did not possess the qualities of a strong leader, yet tried to remain the one in power. He was quickly overshadowed by Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) who questioned the evidence and the opinions of the other jurors. He was not convinced one way or another, but did not want to vote guilty unless he was sure. He created re-enactments of the crime scene, asked to see pieces of evidence, and brought up facts that de-valued those brought up in court. Finally, Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) came to be a leader based solely on his strong belief that the boy was guilty. This strong belief made him angry when people presented evidence which countered his belief, and he tried to force people to do, think, or say things that he wanted. His power began to diminish as more and more people begun to vote not guilty.

Question Three

Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) was the most resistant juror and the last one to vote not guilty. As previously stated, he was abandoned by his son which resulted in his negative feelings towards young people. He tried everything he could to make the jury believe the boy was guilty. He used intimidation tactics, he fought every piece of evidence that would suggest the boy's innocence, and he ultimately resorted to bullying.

Juror #5 (Jack Klugman) was the least resistant. He went along with the majority for the first two votes, but ended up changing his vote to not guilty. Despite his change in opinion, he caused the least conflict. He was shy, insecure, and frightened, he contributed little to the conversation, and he rarely defended himself or his reasons for his vote. There were a few times when he did speak up, but once faced with resistance he quickly withdrew. For example, a few of the jurors were re-enacting the stabbing, trying to show how the boy who was much shorter than his father could have stabbed down and in. This is when Juror #5 (Jack Klugman) explained how a switch blade is used. He shared with the group that he had seen many knife fights in his life and demonstrated that people who fight with such a knife would flip it open and stab upwards, not down. Nevertheless, once Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) started to argue with him he sat down and did not argue back. As he was raised in the slums, he identified more with the boy on trial than did anyone else in the room. It would appear as though he was trying to distance himself from his past, possibly explaining why he initially voted guilty and why he remained so quiet throughout the deliberations, even after he changed his vote.

Question Four

There are many examples of conflict, problem solving, and negotiation within the movie. The first sign of conflict began when Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) was the only one to vote not guilty. The group attempted to resolve this conflict by convincing Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) that he was wrong and they were right. After everyone had spoken Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) was still not convinced. He presents his reasoning for voting not guilty and conflict erupts again. He then decided to negotiate with the jury. He asked them to vote again, this time anonymously, and he would sit out. If they all voted guilty then he would not stand alone and would vote guilty as well. However, if even one person voted not guilty then they would continue talking. They all agreed and took a vote. One person voted not guilty; thus, they continued discussing the case.

Another example of conflict and problem solving is when Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) exploded on Juror #8 (Henry Fonda). He ran at him as though he was going to attack him and the other jurors had to hold him back. Someone who worked for the courts walked in to see if everything was alright. They said it was and sent him away. The rest of the jurors sat back down in silence. This is when Juror #11 (George Voskovec) addressed the group. He pleaded with the group to stop the fighting, stating that they had a responsibility to fulfil. He talked about how wonderful it was to have democracy, and asked the group to focus on the facts and not make it a personal battle.

Ultimately, the conflict was resolved as a result of the investigation of the evidence. The jurors took several votes throughout the movie and each time at least one more person voted not guilty. The jurors began thinking independently and stopped following the group. As well, they began to realize personal factors which were hindering them from seeing the true reality of the case. In the end, they all came to a consensus, not guilty.

Question Five

An example of group facilitation can be seen when Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) asked the jury to take an anonymous vote. As previously stated, Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) did not vote. He told the group that he would vote not guilty if everyone else did, otherwise they would all agree to continue discussing the case. This demonstrated group facilitation because Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) took control of the situation and gave the group some direction. It seemed as though no one wanted to continue talking about the case so he made them a proposition. The fact that he asked them to vote anonymously meant that he was encouraging the jurors to think independently and not be swayed by the group. The fact that he did not vote meant that he was putting the responsibility in their hands. His vote would not be counted, thus, if anyone truly believed that the boy was not guilty they would need to vote that way or live with the guilt of knowing that they could have prevented the boy's death.

Question Six

An example of social loafing can be seen immediately after the first vote. Juror #12 (Robert Webber) suggested to the foreman that everyone go around the table in order of their juror number to give an explanation of why they believed the boy was guilty. He stated that they needed to show Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) why he was wrong and they were right. The foreman agreed and the jurors all began to defend their positions. Social loafing is demonstrated by the inadequate arguments given by a number of the jurors. For example, Juror #2 (John Fiedler) said it was difficult to put into words, he just believed the boy was guilty. Juror #5 (Jack Klugman) did not give any explanation for his vote, he simply asked the group if he could pass. Furthermore, Juror #7 (Jack Warden) said, "I don't know, it's all… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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