Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Crime, Influence, Juror, Evidence, Information, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Conformity

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/12

Justice is a factor that will lead to the development of society in more prosperous ways because of the equality it enforces. The twelve angry men is a movie that displays justice through a theme of fair judgment. A boy is brought before the jury of judgment, and all the evidence is against him. The whole courtroom has already decided the boy is guilty. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, one juror declares the boy is not guilty and gives the other jurors reason to question the evidence presented so that should the boy be innocent, he is not executed for the crimes he did not commit. The essence of this essay is to look at how the juror was able to convince his fellow jurors to save the boy’s life by declaring the boy is innocent. In this way, our judicial systems can be enhanced to promote justice in a much better way through fair judgment.


Attribution is one of the pressures that affected the jury in their judgment both during the vote and during the meeting they had. Attribution comes about when the jurors attributed the boy to be of certain origin such as the slums considering the behavior (Brisman, 2011). Therefore, the jurors were the ones exerting this pressure based on their stereotypic ideas. Henry Fonda, who was juror number 8 in the movie, made external attributions concerning the boy’s behavior. He commented on the boy’s life where he thinks the boy was mistreated all his life. One of the jurors also argued the fact that should the boy be given a chance to get back to the knife, he would have been motivated to hide the evidence rather than come clean. He tries to attribute the boy’s behavior with the fact that he is guilty. The jurors had stereotypic ideologies concerning the kids who live in slums (or other minority groups they know of). These stereotypic ideas affected the jurors’ internal attributions of the boy and eventually and eventually biased their decision on the boy’s fate.
The attribution influence is a cause of an effect evident in the movie called confirmation bias. This type of bias involves a situation where the victims tend to seek information that only satisfies or rather confirm what they suspect. The information is restricted to that only confirming the expectations so that all the other information is ignored. In the story, the jurors decided the boy was guilty based on their stereotype ideologies. Therefore, the part of the evidence they remembered is only the part that confirms what the jurors expect. The fact that the boy was a slum boy was connected the witnesses who believed they saw him committing the crime, and that is all the jurors recall. This denied them the whole picture provided by the evidence as seen by the third juror. By failing to notice significant details of the evidence, the jurors were close to ending the life of an innocent boy.
Conformity influence is the other type of pressure that affected the jurors’ decisions on the fate of the boy. The initial vote the jury did was public and hence some of the jurors made their decisions based on the majority. One instance is the old man Joseph Sweeney, juror number nine, who at first voted the boy guilty. When they moved to a secret meeting, the juror expressed his support on what the third juror had voted. He was also not convinced that the boy was guilty. The fact that he did not wish to be the odd one out in the decision of the jury was what motivated him to vote the boy guilty. This kind of pressure is called conformity (Evirgen, 2009). The old juror was the victim of the pressure and the other jurors who voted guilty were the enforcers of the influence.
Another victim of this pressure type was Jack Klugman, who was the juror that identified himself as a former slum kid. As the movie progresses, he says very little and in the little he speaks, he appears to be unsure in the decision he had taken. The fact that he was a slum kid seemed to make him doubt his decision but is affected the same way the ninth juror is affected: conformity pressure. Jack Warden, who was the juror affected by the baseball game he wanted to watch, was affected in a similar manner. He only went along with what the other jurors decided partly because of his disinterest in the meeting because of the baseball game he felt he was going to miss. This implies that he was indeed a victim of the pressure and the agents of this influence were the other jurors who voted guilty. When the jurors, in their initial public vote, voted guilty, he also voted guilty. When the jurors switched in the secret meeting, his decision also shifted. What proves the type of influence he was under was conformity is the fact that he could not give his reasons but rather told them he just felt the boy was innocent.
Normative influence is the other type that comes about because of superficial reasons rather than because facts that back up a certain suggestion (Garfinkle, 2011). Jack Warden has been identified to be affected by conformity, but the same juror can be classified under this type of influence. He was a baseball fan and all that was in his mind was the baseball game. His concentration was altered greatly because of this. Therefore, not to show it to his fellow jurors, his decisions were based on what the majority chose. His reasons for deciding the boy was guilty were not given. All he claims is that he feels the kid is innocent. Because his concentration was greatly affected, it means that he paid little attention to the discussions in the meeting makes his reasons superficial. This, therefore, qualifies this to be a normative type of pressure. Similar to the initial paragraph above, the rest of the jurors perpetrated the influence.
Informational influence is a type of compliance influence evident in the book. This is where the decisions of the jurors were affected greatly after more information is provided. The accountant, E G Marshall faced this type of influence and information was the reason he changed his vote. He did not know that the eyewitness brought to the court in the trial had poor eyesight. Therefore, the possibility that the eyewitness could have presented wrong information came to life. Adequate information made the jurors sharpen their perception of the matter. The fact that this type of influence played a key role in introducing the theme of reasonable doubt in the movie is essential in this analysis. It should be the basis of justice in our societies today. Injustice in our societies is also a factor of misinformation in our court systems. As much as evidence is presented in the courts, not all angles are viewed based on the evidence. Once an angle is missed, what results is misinterpretation that could result in prosecution of the wrong person. As much as this could lead to a wrong person losing his or her life in the society, another factor worsening the situation is the facts that the real culprit is out there scot free (Waller et al., 2013). Thus, the third juror was the force behind the normative influence because he is the one providing the information.
The misinformation effect can occur because of information acquired afterward especially if the information is wrong. Consider the first type of influence above, stereotypes and schemas could be a factor that can lead to misinterpretation of evidence. They can lead to us filling in the missing information with our stereotypic ideas or schemas resulting in this effect. The old juror, Joseph Sweeney, never accused any of the eyewitnesses of lying but rather said that these witnesses claimed to have seen the boy committing the crime (believed they had seen the boy in the act). This meant that they recalled from memory. Therefore, the jurors attributed the boy’s behavior to their stereotypic ideas they had concerning boys from the slum and decided that the boy was guilty.
The entire story, in terms of the forces that were evident in the decision making of the jury, was all about the push and pull effect of two main forces; majority and minority influence. The majority influence, also known as the groupthink influence was contributed to by forces such as conformity. Conformity came about because of the unified belief of all the jurors that they were indeed punishing a wrongdoer. In addition, were affected by their stereotyped perspective concerning the slums and other classes of people who oppose them. Such factors enhanced the influence of conformity and hence majority influence. However, it was surprising that the minority influence, despite all these symptoms was able to topple over the tide. Minority forces include the informational influence that was enhanced by the third juror who made the juror gain a new angle of viewing the evidence to arouse reasonable doubt (Stephens et al., 2013).


The success of minority influence was based on factors such as consistency that came about because of the third juror. Henry Fonda was consistent in his opposition and was able to convince the other jurors. Another was the fact that he was open minded and not rigid like the other jurors. Self-confidence was also a factor in this success. He also utilized the snowball effect that arises when a few people defect to one side, it creates possibilities for more and more people to change their view and join them. In the real world understanding such forces would help them in a justice system because a juror like the third one can be a successful attorney because of his ability to utilize the informational influence. If a juror could be able to mobilize the jurors, he can manipulate the conformity power to win his cases. In a nutshell, these elements should be considered in our judicial systems to ensure no scrap of evidence is left unturned. In this manner, the real perpetrators of the crime can be incarcerated as the innocent lives are spared.


Brisman, A. (2011). Fictionalized Criminal Law and Youth Legal Consciousness. New York Law School Law Review, 55(4), 1039-1071.
Evirgen, B. (2009). 12 Angry Men as a Teaching Tool in Organizational Behavior. Journal of Academic Studies, 11(41), 175-185.
Garfinkle, E. (2011). Psychic Barriers to Truth in Twelve Angry Men. Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 19(1), 169-184.
Stephens, A. N., Trawley, S. L., Madigan, R., & Groeger, J. A. (2013). Drivers Display Anger-Congruent Attention to Potential Traffic Hazards. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27(2), 178-189.
Waller, M. J., Sohrab, G., & Ma, B. W. (2013). Beyond 12 Angry Men: Thin-Slicing Film to Illustrate Group Dynamics. Small Group Research, 44(4), 446-465.

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