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“12 Angry Men” Drama Movie


This is an American drama movie where a group of 12 men is involved in discussing the judgment for a murder case involving a slum boy. The twelve jurors argue about the evidence presented in this case where an 18-year-old young man is claimed to have killed his father (Chandle, 2006). After the final submissions are made, the twelve men then move to a small courtroom to determine whether the young man is guilty of a death sentence. The deliberations continue for several hours without a real decision being made because American law requires that criminal trials should be decided by the majority decision of jurors (Ellsworth, 2003).

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The movie starts in a courthouse where the final submissions about the boy’s murder case are made and the judge instructs a twelve-man bench to determine whether the boy is guilty of a death sentence. The entire jurors have a predetermined judgment- that the boy is guilty- with the exception of Henry Fonda. His decision annoys jurors Jack Warden and Ed Begley who regard all slum dwellers as wicked people (Chandle, 2006). Fonda proposes another vote after analyzing the evidence of two witnesses.

The secret ballot vote displaced the verdict to start shifting to a not guilty vote. Lee J. Cobb remains to be the only one convinced that the boy is guilty- a decision that Fonda disputes with facts. Various pieces of evidence are analyzed until all the jurors shift to a not guilty verdict at the end. The movie ends when the 12 men come out of the courtroom and as a show of togetherness Davis and McCardle exchange names (Chandle, 2006).

Attribution theory

This is a social psychological theory where people carefully investigate presented evidence to determine whether it can be linked to something. It focuses on the ability of individuals to investigate something and draw correct conclusions from the observations. This theory is supported by evidence from the journal of personality and social psychology. In this journal, a pre-determined judgment when subjected to factual evidence makes an individual change his mind (Chandle, 2006).

However, stereotype thinking makes individuals fear factual evidence and critical thinking. The journal explains the importance of critical thinking to determine the conclusions and judgment in a discussion. During a group discussion, everybody involved should consider the opinion of his colleague because this will make it easy to build a consensus. Other articles in the journal indicate that compliance forces people to make instant decisions so that they are not punished (Ellsworth, 2003).

Analysis of the theory

In this movie, the twelve jurors are involved in a critical examination of evidence to make a proper decision. Various social psychological theories have been used in this movie like perception and decision making, group behavior, and personality.

Perception and decision making

Henry Fonda disagreed with all other jurors to determine the fate of the slum boy. He complains that the evidence labeled to the boy is not true and should not be used to determine the fate of this case (Chandle, 2006). This decision does not go on well with some jurors who think that anybody who comes from the slum is guilty of a death sentence. The juror is affected by stereotype thinking in decision making.

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It is an error in decision making because the decision-maker tends to blame the involved person rather than the situation in which the event occurred. For example, when the witness claims to have heard the boy vow to kill his father, this is not enough evidence that he committed the crime. Stereotype thinking caused the jurors to be biased in their decision. When they failed to realize that his father who was very old and could not use less than a minute to reach the door is another example of biasness of their decision.

Compliance also influences how people make decisions (Ellsworth, 2003). In the movie, the vote starts with most jurors claiming that the boy is guilty though others agree with this because of fear being punished. This is demonstrated when all the jurors finally agree that the boy is not guilty (Chandle, 2006).

Group Behavior

It is displayed in this movie when the jurors keep on changing decisions during the discussions. Jurors start the discussion with a majority judgment when the first vote is conducted and only Fonda holds a different opinion with the rest. In the second vote, facts on the evidence made some jurors change their judgment. It is important to critically examine the evidence before making a judgment to avoid conflicts during discussions (Ellsworth, 2003).

Questions should be asked whether somebody can kill if he vows to. When people are left to think alone they make important judgments. This enables them to gather factual evidence which helps them determine the best decision (Chandle, 2006).

A change in the vote in favor of a not guilty decision indicates critical thinking. Group thinking behavior is illustrated in the movie when finally the jurors decide to shift to a not guilty verdict which contradicts the initial stereotype thinking. The first vote was guilty because of group thinking behavior. During group discussions, it is also possible to shift to judgments that may not be intended by an individual. Henry Fonda agreed to accept the verdict of the second vote showing that group behaviors can force a shift in decision making.


Henry Fonda is the character in the movie whose personality influenced decision making. He argued with facts throughout the discussion and convinced other jurors. His ability to illustrate facts made his arguments accepted because he accommodated other ideas and he was not conservative (Ellsworth, 2003). This is illustrated when he pointed out clearly that he was not out to frustrate the decision of the majority but to express the facts.

His emotional ability also made his personality very good. When faced with a lot of stress he remained composed and confident. This was a contrast to the personality of juror 9 who could not control his emotions and even vowed to kill Fonda (Chandle, 2006). Emotions can lead to poor and biased judgment like when juror 9 claimed that the juror from the slum changed his mind without critically examining the evidence. A person should also be conscious when in discussions so that he is able to analyze the events in the discussion. Fonda was conscious enough to discover that the old man could not use seconds to reach the door. He went ahead and demonstrated this to convince the others.

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Chandle, D. (2006) “The Transmission model of communication: Communication as Perspective Theory”. New York: Ohio University press.

Ellsworth, C. (2003). “One Inspiring Jury: Review of ‘Twelve Angry Men“.101 (6): 1387–1407.

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