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12 Angry Men: the Psychological Approach

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When doing psychology, this movie follows the psychological approach of the levels of analysis and the biopsychosocial approach as the man who originally says not guilty is going through the case on a logical and social level to help prove the man is not guilty. A lot of these men come from a different background and thus have different reasoning and actions to what they believe and how they approach their reasoning and their thoughts within the movie. The main concepts these men approach is applying their research of their history and the trial, critically thinking about what happened to lead up to the murder of the father which the kid is in trial for. And their own bias and overconfidence blinding them to what possibly could be the true answer.

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Applied research is defined as “scientific study that aims to solve practical problems” By the book “Exploring Psychology 9th Edition.” 12 Angry Men is heavily based on evidence as they are jurors and juror number 8, who was the man who said not guilty used evidence and facts to show the other jurors of how they could be sending an innocent man to the electric chair. Juror 8 makes claims to show that the two witnesses could not have possibly seen the actual boy commit the murder. 

He brings up how the train could be passing by while the boy was shouting at his father. Then he brings up on how the stabbing motion wouldn’t make sense for a boy his size, how the man had a slow walk from a heart attack, so on and so forth. He is using his own research and applied thoughts onto the case to prove the boy is innocent. Though this isn’t scientific based, this is evidence based to show they are applying these facts to help.

In the movie this is clearly visible at the start when the men believe that they knew all along that the boy was guilty. With two witnesses who tried to remember what happened and the evidence of what happened. Even with the contradicting evidence in the beginning a lot of the men state that they “knew it all along” with the issues stated in the trial. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

Most of the men in the room are confident in their answer and a lot of them will not take no for an answer. Most of the men, specifically the loud and excitable ones refuse to give up that the boy could be anything but innocent with what they were given. With overconfidence comes anger within many of the men. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

This is what Juror 8 does in the movie is to not blindly accept what is in front of him. First, he works it out in his head that something is wrong¬. It’s a feeling when the movie starts but he proves it himself that nobody witnessed the murder. This movie in its core takes critical thinking to heart and it puts the characters and the audience through finding out if the boy is innocent or not. 

At first 8 just has a hunch that he is not guilty. Brings up the evidence through the trail like the knife which he had an exact replica the boy had. And thinks about how the witnesses are, their situation and where they live. In the end the critical thinking of Juror 8 saved the life of a boy. It would feel as if they used a heuristics approach. While its not perfect, he gets examples from the trail to show a blueprint of the apartment complex and the murder weapon. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

Within a scene, one juror must show to another how the young man on trail hit at a downward angle. Then the rest of the jury gets up in shock as he does a downward striking motion with the knife to prove the angle. While this was the most stressful part of the movie there is a lot of more subtle reactions of the movie like sweating in a hot room, spacing out, or pacing. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

On a small note while it is not explicitly states these glands are responsible for the stress of the movie as the summer heat has overtaken the room and most of the men have better things to do than prove the boy is innocent. One moment they’re loudly arguing at each other the next moment. It almost turns into a fist fight held back by another man because of an accusation. The glands are on top of the kidneys to release adrenaline which increase the person’s heart rate and blood pressure. The excitement lingers for a while. (“Exploring Psychology” Pg. 45)

Most of the context of the boy who supposedly killed his father. Most of the men explained that the boy didn’t have a mother figure and that his father beat him regularly. They argued that the boy was a product of his environment and thus he did the crime. There is even a Juror who lived in the poorer parts of town when he was young. There is even a study that youths and adolescence that are homeless can lead to more aggression. So, this can be applied to the boy who was the supposed perpetrator of the crime. This can show where you come from does matter in how the world views you. In what happens when an individual grows up. (Psychiatric Services, 47(1), 75-80.)

To argue that the jury’s attention was elsewhere the summer heat had completely distracted them with what was happening. They took a total of three to four breaks within the movie to clear their mind while usually one of the men fiddle with the fans or look out the window. At the end of the movie one of the men has glasses on. In which it’s pointed out that it would very much well hurt and that scars could be left there. While the lady who was a witness most likely had the same glasses, which is pulling attention to a specific model of glasses. This shows that the attention is different for every juror. A lot of them even space out in the beginning and in between the breaks of the arguments. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

It has been stated multiple times throughout the movie that the kid was grown in not the most favorable of situations. His environment was not rich and therefore maybe he had less neural connections. But some jury members clearly want to label the boy the bad guy because of his lack of development. Even if one of the jurors himself was born in the slums but he was there judging for the kid. The kid might have been getting physically abused at the age of 5 or at least probably what he can remember. And he has lived with his father until he was a pre-adult.

While all the men were faced with the same issue, they all took it into account differently. Some wanted to put the boy in the electric chair immediately because they thought he did the murder with or without evidence. Juror #8 Made it clear that his gut feeling of him being not guilty was a good choice. Even if the audience doesn’t know if he is right or wrong we have a good feeling in the end of the movie because he chose not to put a kid through a death sentence. Therefore, following intuition might be a good thing in the face of adversity. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

The men thought that putting a dangerous criminal in the electric chair was the right thing. Until Juror #8 thought it was immoral to put an innocent kid in the chair as he lays more and more evidence out for the other men to analyze. In the end the moral action was not to put the kid in the chair and let him walk a free man. But most men did not care about the morality of the kid until they were faced with the evidence that juror 8 brought up that everything could be wrong. This makes them more believable as characters.

It should be assumed that this was set in the 1950s. Women didn’t have much of a role in the case besides the one witness who was a woman. It very much seemed like a men’s job to decide the boy’s life. They also explained very thoroughly near the end that the witness was a woman in her 40s who tried to look like she was in her 30s. Dolled up and trying to impress the public as se was possibly a recluse and not married which would be shamed at the time. It was noted that she did wear glasses but did not bring them to the trial as it would dampen her appearance. But she had cuts on her nose from her glasses. She endured pain to look better for society.

Visual perception plays in one way near the end of the movie where the one of the jurors argued that the lady did not have her glasses on in bed because they hurt her eyes and she was laying down. She has poor vision and thus would not be able to see clearly what the murderer was. While we cannot witness what she saw. Only two other jurors noticed the lady’s glasses.

The other witness who claimed he heard the kid say “I’m going to kill you” then he heard a thud seconds later. Juror #8 claimed that the man lived next to the El line which would mean a train passing by would interfere with his hearing as a train is much louder than a human. And that it would have ruined any evidence. This is how hearing works in the movie and what the audience has to assume what is happening for the witnesses. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

Negative reinforcement in the movie could be the men yelling at each other when an obstacle occurs. Usually a disagreement on guilty or not guilty or it is the heat getting to them and making them more irritable. So, they get conditioned to find some of the jurors who yell when a disagreement happens. One of the most memorable part of negative reinforcement is when one of the more irritable jurors starts yelling about how they are all wrong. Slowly, one by one, the other jurors get up from their chairs, move away from him and turn their backs to him. Ignoring what he has to say because of how much he has done it. The irritable juror sits in a corner chair thinking quietly to himself until the final decision has been made.

One scene in the movie that Juror #8 defends the boy over is the boy went to the movies after his father’s murder but could not remember one scene from the movie, nor the actors. Juror 8 questions another one as he watched a movie recently as well, realizing his memory wasn’t as good as he thought it was even when they weren’t in the stressful situation of coming home to a murder. The audience was also

A lot of the movie is based around gathering the information from the witness to the lawyers explaining their cases before the movie even starts and then the men discussing what happened. The witness testimony would be a long-term memory as it was an experience they had and had to explain to the jury what happened that night. So memory plays a large role in the movie and how it acts along with what they have to do to prove the boy is innocent or guilty.

A concept is a mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas and people. 12 Angry men is 12 men in an enclosed room with only one person on the outside to give or take evidence away. While do not share similar ideas they are people in this singular room. It is almost the concept of the movie and what makes the movie unique within itself. The men don’t even have a name so we have to call them by their number.

The juror with the square tie or the ‘angry juror’ is a blatant example od confirmation bias. Even if the evidence is pointed in the opposite direction he purely wants to send the kid to the electric chair. Making more excuses along the way to try to contradict Juror 8’s statements. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

This is subjectively based off the James Lange theory where the arousal comes first then the emotions come later. In a lot of scenes like where Juror 8 pulls out an identical knife they react after the information is presented to them. When one juror was pretending to stab another to try to replicate how the father would be stabbed they all were tense because of the knife being held up. The juror holding it was feeling doubt and was quite hesitant to do a demonstration. The man pretending to be stabbed stood there calm and collectively in confidence he knew the other juror would not stab him. When he jerked the knife, the crowd jerked up in their seats as a surprise response. (12 Angry Men, 1957)

A lot of the shots in the movie focus on the men’s faces which can read a lot of emotions from calm to anger to despair as they feel genuine to convey how these characters would feel. Especially on juror 8 to show that he should be the focal point within the movie. There is also a specific scene where the camera focuses on juror 10 who is an older fellow who keeps getting disrespected. He is the second one to agree that the boy is not guilty, and his face shows anger to the other men blaming each other for having more ‘not guilty.’ The men are angry because it’s a hot sweaty summer day with some people having other things to do like a ball game. They are stalled and waiting for all of them to agree on guilty or not guilty.

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