12 Angry Men Research Papers
Research papers on 12 Angry Men can investigate on many different aspects of the story line. You can have a research paper written on the legal aspects, moral delemas or sociological concepts exhibited in the story.
Anger, one of humanity's primal emotions, has many different forms. It stretches across every possible situation and every personality - a common thread. In any given situation, there will be a possibility for anger, from any one of the innumerable ways to look at it. In the case of the young man, on trial for murder, in 12 Angry Men (1997) we are given over to view not the process of a jury, not a literal jury deciding a case of a literal life, instead, we are hearing and seeing twelve different choices our minds can make; twelve different paths our anger can take.
Other topics to examine are:
- Minority Viewpoints and social change
- Environment of Negotiation in the film
- Alternatives to how Negotiation was undertaken
- Bargaining power of the jurors
- Role of the Lone Dissenter in the film
12 Angry Men 1957 and 1997
What begins with an initial flash response, eleven men convinced of guilt "from the beginning", against one, small voice saying, "I'm not sure", is, certainly, the embodiment of our own process. Many of us, like Juror 3, played by George C. Scott, are quick to react, jump to a conclusion, explode with anger, and lash out. Our other emotions can become involved in such outbursts as well, carried, as it were, off by the strongest and loudest. But, the jury, as our own minds, has a conscious, has another way of being angry.
By their nature shows like “Twelve Angry Men” compress a tremendous series of events into a short period of time. For dramatic affect a lot of emotions and emotional changes occur rapidly. The deliberation room acts as a contrived setting for the interaction of 12 people from very different backgrounds. All 12 have to stay in the same room and have to make a yes or no decision. In reality the likelihood of the paths of any of two jurors crossing is remote. To expect the reversal of long-held prejudices in the matter of 2 hours seems impossible. Besides that, prejudice has no basis in logic so logic does not change the emotion of prejudice. A hung jury appears much more likely. As it nice as it would be, “Twelve Angry Men” gives an overly optimistic picture of human nature and human interaction.
This film, based originally on a Westinghouse Television production, made into a film in 1957, then remade in 1997, is a masterpiece of the divination of anger, of our humanity. To fully examine the film, we must look at the two primary elements we are given, the verbal and visual rhetoric that guide us through the very difficult process of deciding on the fate of another man's life.
Any large dynamic group will naturally exhibit signs of either conscious or subconscious conformity. The psychological principle of conformity as it relates to social influence is basically an exertion on the will of another person to act in a manner that is not in accordance with one’s actual beliefs. Many different studies of conformity as a result of social influence have been conducted, revealing that almost all conformist responses to social influence can be narrowed down to three types: compliance, identification, and internalization.
Other studies that are relevant to this scene have concluded that environment plays a large role in the success of social influence on conformity, as does the number of subjects involved.
In addition, other studies on social influence and conformity that are relevant have indicated that the addition of a single voice in agreement with an original lone dissenter significantly decreases the impact of conformist agreement.
One area of social influence that is not particularly relevant to this film is the influence of an authority figure. While in many group cases, a single authoritarian figures arises to exert his influence over the others by way of either expert knowledge or a position of respect, it is particularly important to realize that even the jury foreman in the movie exhibits no powers of authority over the decision making process.
The social influence at play in the scene is directly linked to the concept of the lone dissenter. At this point in the film, only one juror stands between the unanimous vote necessary to convict the accused. The lone dissenter concept harkens back to the Catholic Church practice of assigning a devil’s advocate who would speak in evidence against those who had been chosen for canonization as a saint; he was not meant to actually believe the candidate shouldn’t be canonized, but merely to offer hypothetical arguments against. The lone dissenting juror in the film serves the same purpose. In fact, as this sequence begins he excuses himself from voting and accedes to voting guilty himself if there is no one else willing to vote not guilty in a secret ballot.
The secret ballot is itself a vital instrument in the juror’s use of social influence. Conformity in the arena of voting tend to decrease when no one else is aware of one’s opinion. This stands in marked contract to the opening vote when several hands immediately raised in support of a guilty vote, whereas two or three hands went up more tentatively. The dissenting juror probably counted on a secret ballot providing a higher probability of someone else joining him.
The key social influence at work in this scene turns out to be identity. The second juror to vote not guilty is clearly not motivated either by the possibility of a reward or a punishment, nor does he appear to be concerned with being right. He even says himself that at that point he still believes in the probable guilt of the defendant. He also says that the reason he changed his vote is in part because he admired the lone dissenter’s strength to stand up to conformity even in the face of ridicule. He clearly has begun to look at the dissenter as a model.