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12 Angry Men Case

Essay by   •  November 26, 2013  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,180 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,558 Views

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"12 Angry Men"

an analysis of the group dynamic of the jury

"The belief - characterized by juries - that two heads are better than one has long been accepted as a basic component of North America and many other countries' legal systems." So why would a group of people be better than one individual in making a decision where a person's fate is in question? The movie "12 Angry Men" illustrates how effectively decisions can be made and analyzed, the challenges present in a group dynamic, and the personality factors that come into play.

Personality is the way in which a person reacts to and interacts with others. According to the Big Five Model , there are five basic dimensions that underlie all others and encompass most of the significant variations in human personality - extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience. Of these five dimensions, four are clearly present in some of the individual jurors in the movie, and play a role in the dynamics of the group. For example, during the initial vote to see where the jury stands, four of the jurors hesitate before they raise their hands in a guilty verdict, and then finally do. Agreeableness is shown with these four jurors, as they are deferring to others to make the decision. It is also these four jurors that later in the movie are some of the first to convert to a non-guilty verdict.

A person's personality helps to shape their values, which in turn helps to shape how their perception of things and people. Perception helps people give meaning to their environment. For example, Juror 2 has a history with his son that impacts his decision making ability. Due to issues with his run-away son, he perceives the young boy on trial as no good and guilty of everything. This impacts his ability to impartially evaluate the evidence in the trial. When he finally is directly faced with the realization of this fact, is when the jury is unanimous in a non-guilty vote.

Shortcuts in judging others allows us to make accurate perceptions rapidly. But shortcuts also can significantly distort a person's impression. One common shortcut is stereotyping a person , based on our perception of the individual on the basis to which group they belong. The accused is from the slums of the city. On this basis many jurors, including juror numbers 7 and 10, find the defendant initially guilty. Juror 10 said it best when describing people from the slums as "born liars."

So what does personality and perceptions have to do with a jury? A jury is a group, brought together to achieve a unanimous vote. Groups have both strengths and weaknesses. Groups can bring about a broader view and input into the decision making process and provide a greater diversity of views. However, a group is comprised of individuals, who bring with them their own personalities and perceptions of the world that impact their decisions in the group, and how they interact with and influence the group. The weakness of the individual is the weakness of the group, and can lead to individuals conforming to pressures of other others, and a group being dominated by one or a few members.

Influence describes



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