ERIC Number: ED336784
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr-14
Reference Count: N/A
Do the Ends Justify the Means? Thinking Critically about "Twelve Angry Men."
Proctor, Russell F., II
The classic film, "Twelve Angry Men," where a lone dissenting jury member (Henry Fonda) implores his fellow jurors not to make a quick decision in a murder trial, is often cited as a resource for analyzing decision-making processes in groups. The film, used in group-process courses to show how conformity pressures can hamper effective decision-making, originally seemed to demonstrate that good triumphs over evil. Repeated viewings, however, showed that Fonda's logic was often poor, and that he too used group pressure to get his adversaries to capitulate. It demonstrated that persuasion in groups can take place through a variety of methods, and that Fonda's method is also worthy of critical scrutiny. Since students tended to resist strongly any criticism of the hero after seeing the movie, the following exercise was developed to enlist the students' assistance in developing a case against Fonda. Before viewing the movie, half of the class received a "Fonda the Hero" handout, and the other half, one on "Fonda the Villain." After the movie, the two groups were given time to construct arguments for a debate on the subject. What ensued was a heated discussion allowing the teacher to apply concepts from lecture material such as: critical thinking, ethics in persuasion, task and maintenance roles, perception, bases of power, defensive communication, and principles of argumentation and debate. (Two handouts, "Fonda the Hero" and "Fonda the Villain," are attached.) (PRA)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Twelve Angry Men
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Communication Association (Chicago, IL, April 11-14, 1991).