The Presence of Stress in 12 Angry Men And What Caused It
All human beings encounter stress at one point or another in their life. Stress can trigger other emotions that do not necessarily help one in their current situation. Dealing with it can also cause more problems, perhaps even more stress. In the movie 12 Angry Men, 12 jurors are placed in a small, sultry room where they have to come up with a unanimous verdict. After hours of contemplation the men emerge sweaty, stressed out, emotionally drained, and tired from dealing with the stress of the situation.
The stress that they felt was a normal reactive response to be present after being put in that situation.
The jurors knew that they had an important job to do. Their decision could save or take the life of a man. The situation is an approach-avoidance situation because they could save the life of an innocent man or they could let a guilty man go depending on the decision, which led to the initial stress.
For a long amount of time, Juror #8 was trying to convince the other jurors that the boy was not guilty, leading to extreme frustration towards Juror #8 and each other. Some jurors (specifically Juror #3) began to threaten the other jurors.
When the Jurors first entered the Jury Room, they felt that they would be in and out after the first vote. When Juror #8 voted not guilty they all became alarmed, they realized that this might take longer than previously thought. At first, as Juror #8 tried to convince them of the chance of probable doubt, they resisted all his attempts. Gradually, one by one, the men became exhausted of fighting against Juror #8 and changed their vote to not guilty, showing their general adaptation system working in the three stages of alarm, resistance and exhaustion.
The 12 jurors sat in the room, beginning to analyze every piece of information given to them. Certain jurors had to get over former stereotypes that they possessed before the trial. For example, Juror #3 believes that children have no respect for their parents anymore because they do not address them as sir or madam. Juror #4 made a false declaration about children who come from slummy neighborhoods. He believed that they all will forever be menaces to society and that they will never become a good person. He was flabbergasted when Juror #5 stated that he used to live in the worst of all slums, but today he is a good man. The use of groupthink helped them make a decision on the verdict. They are all part of an organized group that is trying to highlight agreement in this crucial decision. The men cooperated and achieved the goal that they were after, reaching a unanimous verdict of not guilty on probable cause.
Even though the men were extremely stressed out about the decision, they were eventually able to rationally make that decision. Stress can slow a person down but it will not shut that person down. When faced with a heavily weighted decision people tend to become stressed out. They spend more time worrying about making the wrong choice than the time they spend wondering what the right choice is. Stress is a normal human feeling that cannot be avoided and will always be present to a certain extent.
The jurors were faced with a difficult choice to make , their decision could either save a young man’s life or put him to death. Cognitive Psychology focuses on information processing, problem solving and decision-making. The jurors were give an immense amount of information that they had to take in and decide whether the young man was guilty or not. Juror #8 analyzed the information, finding loopholes that no one else did. After sharing all of that information with the other jurors, more loopholes were found by other jurors. The remaining 11 jurors change their charge to not guilty.
While in the Jury Room the 12 men all became extremely restless with one another. The amygdala is a structure in the limbic system, which is responsible for emotion and aggression. Juror #3 showed the most emotion and aggression. His aggression was shown when he threatened to kill Juror #8, and his emotion what shown when he broke down and started to cry after tearing up the picture of his son. Juror #3 used his Amygdala very often!
Juror #4 argues that perhaps the woman who claims to have witnessed the murder truly did see the murder. The men all recall her having marks on her nose that resembled those left by eyeglasses. The argument was if she was trying to fall asleep and witnessed the murder then most likely she did not have on her glasses, thus inhibiting her field of vision. Juror #4 retaliates with the argument of the chance of her being far-sighted then she would have been able to see the murder happening without her glasses on.
In the movie 12 Angry Men, the jurors are concentrating on one specific case. They have been given information that they need to use to make their decision on a verdict. The case that they have been given is not being compared to any other case. They cannot generalize this case or relate it to any other previous experience by law and fairness to the defendant of the case.
Juror #8 uses this psychological technique in order to convince everyone that the boy is innocent by reasonable doubt. He first suggests that, perhaps the boy did not commit the crime. This is how he gets his foot in the door. Then as the other members of the jury begin to question his verdict he gives them good arguments as to why he feels this way and how some of the evidence just does not fit together. By the end of the movie he has fully convinced the other 11 jurors that there is enough information presents that the boy can be released on reasonable doubt.
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