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Twelve Angry Men

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Twelve Angry Men Eric Schoon Concordia University-Saint Paul

Twelve Angry Men I. Introduction
Twelve Angry Men is set in a New York City court of law jury room in 1957. The movie opens to the empty jury room, and the judge’s voice is heard giving a set of final instructions to the jurors (Reginald Rose, Twelve Angry Men Study Guide).Twelve men with diverse backgrounds are confined in a room and are unable to leave until they can reach a unanimous decision, one which will either condemn a young man to death or set him free. The twelve strangers are bound to each other until the goal is achieved. The scene is composed of two rather small rooms, one with windows that overlook the downtown area and the second room is a restroom. It seems that the deliberation takes place in the summer; humidity and the room’s stuffiness, due to the lack of air conditioning and a sporadically working fan, add to the undue stress of their task. This paper will discuss the different elements of group dynamics and how they relate to group cohesion and their effectiveness. II. Relational characteristics of group dynamics
Group formation
Levi, (2011) states to become more effective, teams should address several issues when first formed. First the team should socialize new members into the group. This socialization process assimilates new members while accommodating their individual needs. Second, the purpose or objective of the team should be defined through the creation of team goals. Juror number one takes the leader role as the jury foreman. This juror is non-confrontational and is very serious about his respected role; he tries to be as fair as possible. Levi, (2011) suggests there are many stage theories of group development, but most of the theories have similar elements. A best-known group development stage theory Developed by Tuckman and Jensen, (1977) consists of five stages; forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Levi, (2011) says a group begins with the forming stage, where little work occurs. Group members get to know one another, as in the movie when the jurors start to file into the room and decide to take a short break before deliberating. The socialization and forming stage process begins with small group discussion between jurors. The storming stage that follows often is characterized by conflicts among group members and confusion about group roles and project requirements Levi, (2011). The storming stage was observed in the movie when each juror took a turn to give his vote and explain why he thought the defendant was guilty. This stage created conflict and hostility between two of the jurors who voted “not guilty” against the other ten jurors who voted “guilty”. There was also confusion in this stage when another juror took role of the foreman for a brief moment in which juror number one took control again. The norming stage is characterized by when a group begins to organize itself Levi, (2011). In the movie, some of the jurors developed rules of order and stated what behavior was acceptable or unacceptable. Levi, (2011) went on to say during the performing stage the group has matured and knows how to operate, so it focuses on its task. In the movie all twelve of the jurors went through and discussed every piece of evidence and different scenario in order to come up with a verdict. The adjourning stage according to Levi, (2011) suggests some groups have planned endings. In this case, the twelve jurors must reach a verdict. Group norms define appropriate behavior for group members. They help the group to operate more smoothly and create a distinctive group identity Levi, (2011).
Social influence
Levi, (2011) refers to social influence as an attempt to affect or change other people. In the movie Twelve Angry Men, all of the jurors presume the defendant is guilty. The twelve sit down and a vote is taken. All of the jurors vote “guilty” except for juror number eight, who votes “not guilty”. The other eleven jurors react in an argumentative way against this “not guilty” vote. They go around the table explaining why each of the eleven jurors believes the boy to be guilty, in hopes of convincing juror number eight. Team members can use a variety of social influence to change one another. Group members want to create a favorable impression, so they compare their answers to the group norm and then shift their positions to be more consistent with it (Myers & Lamm, 1976). This is the case with juror #2 who agreed that the kid was guilty, but this was a way to gain approval. He was simply siding with the group which he thought would win. He seems timid and eager to go along with the group. When he was asked to tell why he feels the kid was guilty, his reply was “he is just guilty” without elaborating or giving any supporting arguments. Levi, (2011) says it might be expected that the outcome of group discussion would be a decision that is close to the average of the groups initial position, this is not always the case. Sometimes the effect of a group discussion can lead to a final decision that is more extreme than the average of the group members. This may be either more risky or more cautious, depending on the initial inclination of the group. This phenomenon is called “group polarization”. This was evident in the movie when every juror was allowed to speak their thoughts. It was through this discussion that strengthened the confidence of the other partisan jurors to reevaluate their vote. As the group spent more time together and learned more about each other’s backgrounds, they no longer accepted negative or abusive behavior amongst each other.
Roles in a group
Roles in a group are one of the basic building blocks of a successful team’s performance. A role is a set of behaviors typical of people in certain social contexts Levi, (2011). Jury members moved between roles of information givers and information seekers. When the jury began discussing the case, juror number one, an assistant football coach, took the informal role as the jury foreman. He soon realized the complexity of this position. Levi, (2011) summarizes roles are sets of behaviors that people perform in groups. They may be deliberately created and filled. III. Task characteristics and group dynamics
Goals
The value of team goals is to provide the team with direction and motivation Levi, (2011). In the movie it is made very clear by the judge that these twelve jurors will be put in a small room to discuss the case amongst them until they reach a verdict. Until they come up with a final decision, no one under any circumstances is allowed to leave the room. In the movie, one of the first goals is to convince juror number eight that the defendant is guilty. Levi, (2011) states group goals provide a number of valuable functions, but they also can be a source of problems. He went on to say problems arise from hidden agendas, which are unspoken individual goals that conflict with the overall group goals. This was evident in the movie; when individual goals of the jury members were substantially different form the goals of the group. Juror number seven’s individual goal was to attend a Yankees baseball game that evening. Another individual goal of juror number ten was to get back to work at his car washes as quickly as he could. These selfish individual goals in the beginning were getting in the way of the overall goals of the group. Rather than directly confronting a team member about a hidden agenda, the team can strengthen its group goals or improve its communication processes Levi, (2011). At one point in the movie, when the votes were split, the group suggested on a time limit to reach a goal before they would declare a hung jury. With the given time frame allotment, this allowed the jurors to examine the evidence more thoroughly and cover all of the details. Levi, (2011) defined goals as having a purpose and value which are important factors in a groups success. Effective group goals are measurable, in order to provide feedback on performance and moderately difficult to achieve, in order to motivate performance.
Conflict
Levi, (2011) states there are several ways in which people and teams try to resolve conflicts. The approaches they take depend on their personalities, their social relations, and the particular situation. In the movie, all the jurors presume the defendant is guilty. When the twelve jurors sit down to vote, all of the jurors vote “guilty” except for juror number eight, who votes “not guilty”, and the conflict starts. It is through discussion and conflict that the twelve jurors end up flip-flopping and come to a unanimous decision. Conflicts of various types are a natural part of a team process. People handle conflict in their teams in a variety of ways, depending on the importance of their desire to maintain good social relations and develop high-quality solutions Levi, (2011). One example in the movie is when juror number eight requests another vote, this time by secret ballot. Juror number eight suggests that he will refrain from voting and if the eleven other jurors still unanimously vote in favor of “guilty”, he will vote in favor of the consensus of the group. Levi, (2011) also suggests that conflict may arise from many sources, including confusion about people’s positions, personality differences, legitimate differences of opinion, hidden agendas, poor norms, competitive reward systems, and poorly managed meetings. Negotiation or bargaining is the process by which two sides engaged in a dispute exchange offers and counteroffers in effort to find a mutually acceptable agreement Levi, (2011). An example of this in the movie was when juror number nine was the first to change his vote to “not guilty”. It was at this point when the negotiation or bargaining process began to transform the other juror’s decisions regarding their individual vote. Levi, (2011) summarizes conflict as being both positive and negative toward problems in a team. Conflict helps the team perform its task by fostering debate over issues and stimulating creativity. He went on to say conflict hurts the team when it creates strong negative emotions, damages group cohesion, and disrupts the team’s ability to operate. IV. Motivation and outcomes
Motivation
Motivation is needed to encourage people to apply their creative skills Levi, (2011). He suggests intrinsic motivation encourages creativity, whereas extrinsic motivation discourages creativity. When people are intrinsically motivated, they engage in an activity for its own sake, not to achieve a reward for performing the task. Extrinsic motivation is related not to the task, but to a reward for performance. Extrinsic motivators can hurt creativity by shifting attention away from the task and toward the reward. There are examples of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators throughout the movie. An example of intrinsic motivation is when there is discussion about the murder weapon, which was defined as a “one-of- a- kind” knife. Juror number eight pulls out a switch blade knife identical to the knife in question and stabs it into the table. The juror had purchased the identical knife at a pawn shop two blocks away from where the boy lived. His intrinsic motivation was toward the case and not to the reward. Extrinsic motivators were plentiful throughout the movie, especially in the beginning when the majority of the jurors were simply voting to conform and to reach a unanimous decision so they could be excused rather quickly. Over time as more and more of the evidence became questionable, the motivation of the group changed from short term and selfish decisions to a longer more educated decision-making process. Levi, (2011) suggests one of the biggest motivation problems for teams is social loafing, which is the reduction of individual contributions when people work in groups rather than alone. This type of behavior was identified in the movie between jurors playing tic-tac-toe rather than debating the case. Other juror’s would often get up and walk about the room or use the restroom rather than staying focused on the task. Levi, (2011) summarizes to improve group motivation it requires countering the negative effects of social loafing. The group’s task should be involving and challenging and should require coordinated effort to be completed. V. Conclusion
In examining the course on Organizational Management and Leadership, I have realized through reading Group Dynamics for Teams by Daniel Levi, along with participation in discussion boards activities as well as class room discussions, there are a multitude of contributing factors and characteristics that contribute to the effectiveness of cohesive teams and group’s success. A successful team completes its task, maintains good social relations, and promotes its members’ personal and professional development Levi, (2011). Relational characteristics of group dynamics include group formation, social influence, and roles in a group which are contributing factors in defining team success. To become more effective as a group, teams must first start out by socializing with new members of the group. An example of this socialization process for our group took place in the first night of class when we interviewed each other and then took turns introducing one another to the class. Social influence and roles in our group are ones that can change depending on the task; however, certain roles pertaining to individuals can remain the same. Group norms are one way that groups establish individual identities and keep individuals working towards the good of the group. Task characteristics such as goals and conflict resolution are important factors in group dynamics. Levi, (2011) explains a commitment to common goals helps unite team members. Such is the case in our group where we share and contribute to the personal and professional growth of our cohorts. Conflicts of various types are a natural part of the team process, Levi, (2011) states although we often view conflict as a negative, there are benefits to conflict if it is managed appropriately. We have had healthy positive and negative conflict resolution discussions throughout this course; these have enabled us to grow as individuals as well as a team. An example of this healthy conflict resolution was in the form of our “murder mystery” this exercise was a fun twist on healthy team interactions. Goals should be moderately difficult. That is, they should be motivating but not impossible to achieve (Locke & Latham, 1990). Team goals work best when the task is interesting and challenging and requires that team member’s work together to succeed. The team feels a sense of accomplishment when it reaches the goals (Zander, 1994). A perfect case in point to summarize this course and the direction of our cohorts moving forward as a group is by having a leader that engages classroom participation and keeps the course material interesting and challenging. This is a huge contributing factor in creating an effective and cohesive group.

References
Levi, D. (2011) Group dynamics for teams (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Rose, R. 12 Angry men study guide.

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