Analysis of the Movie “Twelve Angry Men” (1957)

The movie name Twelve Angry Men (1957) is a story that focuses of jury’s deliberation by 12 diversity background men, they all forcing the question by their ethics and values to decide whether a young man is guilty or not guilt basis on some reasonable doubt. The great philosopher Socrates proved by death that “majority democracy” may also be “majority dictatorship”, especially when the situation is working on a seemingly convincing murder case and twelve routine jurors, just as the company is under-prepared and routine. Decision-making meetings can easily belong to the leaders or “authorities”.

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In this movie, it provides us with many useful ideas of decision-making in organizational behaviors, such as groupthink, social loafing, the minority in a group, conflict management, and the group-forming stage. Sometime, when people are working with a group, they will easily to compromise the majority decision, whether the decision is not making any sense. Consistent with Janis (1972), some key factors that aggravate groupthink, according to the theory, are high initial cohesiveness, directive leadership, and conditions of high stress. The impact of groupthink can lead to ineffective and unethical group decision making.

As an example in the movie, the first vote for the defendant is guilty or not, some of the juries don’t even understand the case or making any individual decision, they just vote guilt by following the majority groups. They are trying to avoid any unnecessary trouble or conflict. Under this condition, analyzing and assessing are less important, and decision making becomes more unreliable. Johnson (2005) give us some suggestion to avoid this problem which are listening, engaging in dialogue, and utilizing productive conflict will increase the chances that groups will come up with a better solution because members have examined their assumptions and considered more viewpoints and possible solutions. In the textbook have mention that individual characteristics like age, gender, race, ethnicity, and abilities can influence people’s performance. In this movie, the jury is made up of 12 jurors of different ages, occupations, values, and characteristics. The differences among these people lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding that construct the most conflict within the movie. There is additional deep-level diversity than surface-level diversity during this movie. However, those jurors have the identical gender, similar race, and ethnicity, all of them have distinct values, personalities, and backgrounds, that lead them to hold different opinions throughout this decision-making process.

As a result of diversity is inevitable in an organization, diversity management becomes necessary so as to make everyone more aware of and sensitive to the needs and differences of others. A task of a group leader is to avoid the group from coming to a conclusion too soon, or from getting stuck in endless debate. (Saaty, 2013) In the first voting, the architect was the only person who voted for not guilty, from the point of view of organizational behavior, his behavior shows that he is potentially leading all the group members into discussions. Once the problem is identified, the questioning spirit can again drive a different way of thinking toward the exact problem. Another challenge a group leader might face in a meeting is with maintaining group focus and keeping track of the progress. The jury is applying this practice well in this process, they vote after every important discussion and analysis to see the progress of the process of decision making. Keeping track of the progress helps them to be more effective and concentrated in the decision making process.

Social loafing is refer to the concept that people are prone to exert less effort on a task if they are in a group versus when they work alone. ( Gary,1988) One of the juries is a watchmaker can be considered to be a social loafer because most of the time in the meeting, he is being quiet and hesitates to give his opinion. Another example is the salesman. He is less concerned and less committed in this murder case. He cares more about his baseball tickets than the discussion of human’s life which taking place in front of him, and sometimes he even ignores what is happening. One reason the jury experiences social loafing can be the numbers of the member. Once the group has excess members, cohesiveness and mutual responsibility decline, social loafing increases, and people communicate less. The members of a large group have trouble coordinating with each other, especially under the time pressure. Under the situation in this movie, no one knows each other before is meeting, they have a time pressure to make the judgment, and it is attainable for the jury to have difficulty connecting with each other and therefore become social loafers. In this movie, I believe the most attractive all the people are their emotions and mood. Besides, each juror is in a bad mood because of the lack of fresh air and hot in the room and also a long discussion. This improves the conflicts. During most scenes of the movie, the jury appears to overstated express their feelings when someone says something they don’t agree with.

The conflict in this movie can be taken into the analysis by the Circle of Conflict Model in the book The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict (Moore, 1986). Mr. Moore divides the causes of conflict into five types, which he depicts as slices of a circular pie, which he calls the circle of conflict. The five causes of conflict are data, structural, relationships, values, and interests. Each cause can cause the conflict individually, or the conflict might result from multiple causes. Thoughtful the impact of imbalances at intervals circle forces all parties to first identify and diagnose the source of conflict, and then parley for resolution.

The most determining cause of the conflict in the movie is relationships, which is identified as negative past experience and stereotypes. One juror, who kept insisting on the guiltiness of the defendant till the end of the movie, is making his decision based on his negative past experience about his son. During the movie, he always has highly negative emotions. To conclude, relationship conflict, The personal past experience, and their stereotype is the most key factor of the conflict in this movie. The most key character in the movie is the architect who votes not guilty in the beginning, his vote puts himself in the position of one versus eleven. Because of his different opinions with others, the jury is able to make judgments carefully and correctly. According to Johnson (Johnson, 2007), a group’s effectiveness increases when someone in the group has the courage to stand alone and express a minority opinion. This effectively eliminates the phenomena of groupthink. Having said that, this can be difficult to put into practice because being in the minority is never easy because it runs contrary to our strong desire to be liked and accepted by others (Johnson, 2007). Despite the other juror’s insist on their objections, they start to begin negotiation.

According to Johnson (2007), creating dialogue is a vital step to creating effective and ethical community groups. At the end of the movie, his persistence to stand as a minority in the group and to convince other jurors turns out to be successful; therefore, the jury can finally make a correct judgment. One of the other ideas that I found about the architect is he has the high skill of control ability and communications art. When other jurors find that architect had voted against him and asked him the reason. architect never said that the boy was not guilty, only that it’s possible may not be guilty. Such a statement is in organizing with the “”reasonable suspicion”” principle of jury trials and avoids direct conflict with other jurors, and start his subsequent theoretical proof. In the point of overturning the testimony from the witnesses, his also continuing asked other jurors to support his views through their answers, which is more substantial.

Throughout the argumentation process, The architect used various methods such as common sense of life, life experience, legal common sense, scientific calculation, psychological presupposition, and a field experiment to reason, and finally achieved the purpose of persuading the group. According to Satyendra Kumar Sarna (2015), Faulty communication in the organization can lead to the lowered efficiency and effectiveness at the organizational as well as at the individual levels. Also, it may become a cause of the interpersonal friction between the employees. Overall, in this movie, it provided us with a lot of ideas that we can learn and discuss the behavior in any organization. Such as hierarchy versus dignity, opinions versus understanding, truth versus doubt, rationality versus emotion, passion versus calm, perseverance versus blind obedience, law versus ethics, these are the behavior that we should think carefully what we want to be in any society.

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