Tyler Streets Dr. Lipson Organizational Behavior 200 01 November 2009 “12 Angry Men” Analysis By the sound of it, you would think “12 Angry Men” would be a football game, but a lot can be said for a jury proceeding and this movie does a great job of showing that. Twelve different men with twelve different personalities are locked in a room until they can unanimously agree to a verdict, a decision whether to put an 18 year old boy to death for a murder charge, or let him go free. When they enter the room, the mood and feeling was nonchalant, as if it was an open and shut case, but after a preliminary vote not everyone was in agreement.
The proceedings that followed were longer, and more taxing than they expected but the longer they talked about it, the more clear the picture became. The only person that didn’t vote the boy guilty was a man by the name of Henry Fonda. He was an architect, a stout man with good posture. He was the “voice of reason” for the sake of making an honest decision. He knew the magnitude of the decision they had to make, and wanted to talk it out. Mr. Fonda was rational, analytical, and became the information and opinion seeker during the proceedings.
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His characteristics were synonymous with the style associated with a Thinker-type personality. Throughout the proceedings sometimes the men took on multiple roles, shifting between behavior types based on the introduction of new material. Such was the case with John Fiedler, a bank teller who subtly assumed the role of the Energizer. He was the one to see the relatedness between ideas and helped stimulate new approaches to the rest of the group. When it became clearer, he was able to reiterate what the architect was trying to convey. Mr. Fiedler helped Mr.
Fonda prove his theory that the eyewitness downstairs couldn’t have made it to the door in time to see the boy run out. However, the bank teller wasn’t the first one to reverse his vote. It was Mr. Sweeney, an empathetic old man with a good eye and keen sense of character. He had a key role early on in the proceedings that introduced the notion the eyewitness was making up his testimony because he enjoyed the attention he got and wanted to feel like he was important to someone. Although it didn’t sit well at first, the idea helped connect new material about the eyewitness that became apparent later.
Sweeney was the one to organize the information, sort it out and digest it. He could make a connection between new information and the task at hand. Mr. Sweeney had the style of a feeler type personality. He was empathetic toward the eyewitness, and loyal to the Architect for doing the right thing. Mr. Fonda, Fiedler, and Sweeney were some of the “12 angry men” that were concerned with accomplishing the team task. That is, to come to an honest and legitimate verdict for the boy. Jack Warden a baseball fan, Mr. Marshall, a stockbroker, and Mr.
Cobb, a messenger of some sort, played the opposite role of accomplishing the task because they were more concerned with themselves and their own needs. Jack displayed behavior like that of an Avoider. He would sulk and remain silent, not interested in talking it through. He was impatient from the start because he had tickets to a baseball game and didn’t want to be late. He was convinced that the boy was guilty just because of how the evidence was laid out. Often times he would comment on the fan not working in the room, or take breaks to the bathroom to stop talking about the case.
He focused on non-essential points to the testimony and wanted everything spelled out for him, even the easiest understood terms. It wasn’t until the old man’s eyewitness testimony became unreliable, the trajectory of the stabbing came into question, and it started raining that he decided to vote “not guilty”. Yet his reason for voting not guilty was because he was tired of arguing. Jack Warden’s behavior is typical of an Avoider. Mr. Marshall had the typical behavior of a Blocker. He would disagree with new information regardless of merits, he was overly negative and stubborn, and didn’t take things seriously.
Early on in the movie he was quoted as saying, “Slums are for breeding grounds”, implying that because the boy was from the slum, he was nothing more than a killer. One of the key eyewitnesses from across the way was a woman who claimed she saw the boy stab the father through the windows of a passing train. It was discovered that the woman wore glasses, and at the time of the killing she was laying in bed. When she looked out her window, she didn’t have her glasses on, and although she saw an image she couldn’t be sure as to who exactly it was.
After all the information was put in front of him, the thought finally resonated with Mr. Marshall. He wears glasses too and he knew there was no other explanation. It was only when he couldn’t disagree with the information anymore that he changed his vote. And then there is Mr. Cobb, the Dominator. He has a need to control the proceedings. He was vey loud and incessant, and was voting against the boy because of his own personal issues. His own son hadn’t spoken to him in two years and Mr. Cobb was putting his bias toward his son, and the thought of children being selfish onto the kid on trial.
He was the last one to cast a not guilty vote after everything was put in front of him. The two stages of a Group’s Life Cycle that were most apparent to me were the forming and storming phases. The forming stage is the first stage to a group life cycle and usually doesn’t last long. In the movie the men came in and all gathered around the table. They were gathering information and impressions of each other, and the scope of the task. The foreman, Mr. Balsam took the point position and established a structure they could work with.
He assigned seats to the men based on their jury numbers, he casted the preliminary vote, and decided that since there was one “not guilty” vote, they were going to stay and talk about it until everyone was in agreement. It was at that time they entered the storming phase. The storming phase is often most difficult, and can last the longest. The large majority of the movie takes place during this stage. Each person was delivering their ideas and competing for consideration. They debated as they went around the table saying how they felt.
Their ideas were critiqued and tested, and slowly each member of the group fell into a role. The more information that was brought to the table, the easier it was for them to make a decision. If I had to reflect on my behavior and how I interact with different groups, I would consider myself an Energizer, or Information Seeker. Sometimes I am the one gathering all the information and figuring out how it can best be used. I was on a scavenger hunt with my friends and we had to identify the information in the riddles and solve them in the order of precedence.
I often exhibit characteristics of the Energizer when I am in study groups. Studying for my Economics exam I was able to explain laws of quantity supplied and demanded in a way that wasn’t prepared in the book or notes. I noticed the relationship between models and helped others learn. My personality is conducive to someone who is a Thinker type personality. Details and results are important. Certainly there are issues that come along with having a Thinking personality. Things are over-analyzed, and are taken too seriously. Our thoughts are linear to us and when there is deviation it can throw us off.
When more than one Thinker is put into a group, each can believe their idea is most effective and should be implemented, and that has a potential to raise conflict. We tend to want to lead or take a leadership role, which can create strain among the group. It would be most beneficial to a Thinker personality to just be aware of what it is he or she does well and what he or she needs to work on. This will refine our strengths and reduce the affect of our weaknesses. Their personality types created tension among them and it had to be sorted out.
Once they were able to work through the case, and all but one man thought the boy had surely committed the crime, they were able to eventually come to a final decision. A lot can be said for a jury proceeding; those twelve men went from total conflict to total resolution. Drexel University Writing Center 0032 MacAlister (215) 895-6633 http://www. drexel. edu/coas/engphil/writingcenter Peer/Faculty Reader Report Form Date: 10/26/11 Term: Fall Year: 2011 Student: Dennis Nelson Course:ORGB 300 Section: Tutor: JessPeer Dear Professor,
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