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12 Angry Men

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Wasim Alam

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We can get lot of social psychology theories example in the film
“12 Angry Men”. Released in 1957 is a courtroom drama film directed by Sidney

It tells the story of 12 jurors who were assigned to decide
the guilt or innocence of an accused murder. In the first time vote 11 jurors
voted for guilty except one juror (Juror 8). Gradually, after lot of angry
discussion among them all agreed the boy to be innocent.


The film highlights the social psychology theories in areas
of attitude formation and change, persuasion, cognitive dissonance, prejudice,
social perception.


Perception and Prejudice

Juror 10 and Juror3 has prejudice against the kid. Juror 10
has prejudice on the basis of social perception. He thinks the child is from
slum and by default they are very violent and cannot live in the society
respectfully. He was biased in his decision on the basis of this racial prejudice.
He was third last person to change his decision to not guilty.

Juror 3 has personal experience with a kid like the accused.
He had a bad relation with his own son and he no longer speak with him. This
was a contributing factor to his prejudice against the defendant. 3rd
Juror was the last to be convinced and he changed his mind only when other made
him realized of his projected feelings of his son onto the defendant.

and Automated processing

We can relate the movie discussion to our class discussion on
scenario of violent crime in which Larry a school dropout shoots the policeman
while coming out from liquor store. So, there can be motivational theories,
learning theories or cognitive theories in the case of boy who was accused guilty
of murdering his father. However initially the Jurors didn’t considered all
these facts and 11 of them voted guilty. Here we can say that the modes of
social thought were automatic processing. The Jurors thought in in a fast,
relatively effortless, and intuitive manner. Juror 8 however thought in controlled
process way. He analyzed each every juror thought and systematically and logically
in a very effortful manner, he discussed the relevance of the witness testimony
and disproves them all.

Social Influence

There was also initially informational social influence. This
had much worst effect on addition of time constraint. One jury had to attend
ball game in the evening and he just wanted this to be over. Other jury who was
businessman had some important meeting of him. One Juror only relied on other’s
judgement. Majority influence played role in his decisions. He thought the society’s
or majority’s group decision to be correct and changed his decision quickly as
the majority changed from guilty to not guilty.

formation and Persuasion

Persuasion played a central role in the plot of “12 Angry Men”.
According to social psychologists Richard Petty and John Cacioppo, there are two
routes to persuasion: peripheral and central which are applicable here.

The central route to persuasion is the process by which a
person thinks carefully about a communication and is influenced by the power of
argument. We see the 8th Juror persuaded the other juror in a
well-thought, elucidated manner. Juror 9 supported the Juror 8 on the basis of
Juror’s passion and sense of justice. Lastly, a foreign juror appeals to the
central route to persuasion when he advocates, “going deeper,” in reference to
an examination of the facts.

The peripheral route of persuasion is characterized by
superficial cues surrounding the argument rather than the argument’s factual
validity. This was used by 10th Jury giving prejudice and racist
reason to support his decision and to persuade other.


Theory of

Jones and Davis’s (1965) theory of correspondent inference
says how we use information about others’ behavior as a basis for inferring
their traits. Like jury who lived below the defendant house, said that in past
the boy had tried to slash another teenager with knife, had an argument with
his father and threatened his father to kill him. All these behavior made us to
infer boy’s trait to impulsive and angry person who can murder someone. There
were biases in attribution.


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