Twelve Angry Men

Posted: October 24th, 2013

Twelve Angry Men






Twelve Angry Men


            Communication is a discipline that involves approaches based on behaviors and connotations. In all frameworks of communication, interaction between the involved parties is crucial (Rosner, 2001). Moreover, this field focuses on the communication composition whose significance depends on the context. Communication comprises several sub-disciplines such as organizational, mass and interpersonal communication among others. These diverse areas would be hard to exhaust in such a paper. However, this discussion deals with interpersonal communication in the social context of the film analyzed. Interpersonal communication involves the study of oral and written interactions amongst different people. It encompasses various aspects such as relational communication, influence and attraction in the course of people’s socializing as well as in the process of instructional intercourse. This mode of communication can be conducted either directly or indirectly via face-to-face conversations or interactions aided by means of communication gadgets such as phones and computers (Rosner, 2001).

The film under consideration, namely Twelve Angry Men, provides an appropriate platform for the analysis of interpersonal communication as an aspect within communication. The main objective of analyzing this film is to relate various terms in communication to literature works. This paper aims at illustrating the importance of certain communication terminology as well as techniques in literature. One of such aspects is confined to self-disclosure, which entails expressing one’s thoughts and feelings in a gradual manner. However, this happens when the involved parties have a close relationship. Moreover, the aspect of making decisions in small groups is essential as the members attain the most appropriate verdict. Violence is also a crucial topic of communication as a reduction of the vice is possible through efficient negotiations between the parties involved. Additionally, rhetorical sensitivity is vital in interpersonal communications in order to avoid causing discomfort to one’s audience. Other aspects of interpersonal relations that affect interactions include persuasive strategies, role taking, social influence, and leadership styles (Rosner, 2001).

Some of these aspects are confined to self-disclosure, decision-making within small groups, violence, rhetorical sensitivity, persuasive strategies, role taking, social influence and leadership styles. Within the film, these factors and aspects have been illustrated to show different influences of interpersonal communication. Self-disclosure has influenced factors such as the closeness of relationships between parties where closely related people are more open to each other. Decision-making within small groups is also illustrated in the film, further depicting an aspect of interpersonal communication. Violence is an aspect of society that is influenced by communication as depicted in this film. Within interpersonal communication, rhetorical sensitivity is crucial in enhancing the right reaction from listeners while persuasive strategies are quite useful for influencing people’s stance on opinions. To associate better with the audience, role taking is important while social influence affects parties further influencing how they communicate. Leadership style, on the other hand, is dependent on interpersonal communication in order to persuade people to follow a certain ideal.


            First of all, self-disclosure is a crucial feature of communication especially in the Social Penetration Theory. It is a gradual process wherein the levels of interaction vary depending on the closeness of the individuals in the relationship (Self-Assessment Update, 1997). For example, the communication process involving an employee and his or her employer is less intense compared to an interaction between close friends. Self-disclosure involves the expression of feelings, ideas and experiences about one’s past, present and future. This information helps the listener to get to know the informer well. This aspect mostly entails private information about oneself. Nonetheless, the informer relays such information voluntarily.

Through self-disclosure, one can strengthen the intimacy of a relationship as well as gain assistance and support from those close to him or her (Self-Assessment Update, 1997). This feature of communication stimulates sympathy, love and concern on the part of others. In most cases, self-disclosure tends to be mutual and equal with its intensity increasing over time. The film in question, which is Twelve Angry Men, consists of various scenes that illustrate this particular aspect of interpersonal communication, which can be mainly found in the conversations of the jury members. From their intercourse, one is able to describe the personalities of these individuals. To start with, the Foreman reveals himself to the viewers as someone who is formal and not particularly intelligent. Thus, for instance, in Act 1 he utters, “All right. Now, you people can handle this any way you want to. I mean, I am not going to make any rules. If we want to discuss it first and then vote, that is one way. Or we can vote right now to see how we stand” (Rose, 2006).

Likewise, Juror No.2 is not conversant with matters concerning the jury. By means of self-disclosure in Act 1, one can realize that it is his first time jurying, which is illustrated by the following: “I mean, I’ve never been on a jury before” (Rose, 2006). Moreover, Juror No.3 informs the audience of his experience through self-disclosure. He seems dogmatic and full of typecasts especially about young people. This is evident in Act 1 when he says,

“It’s the kids, the way they are nowadays. Angry! Hostile! You cannot do a damn thing with them. Just the way they talk to you. Listen when I was his age I used to call my father “sir”. That’s right. Sir! You ever here a boy call his father that anymore?” (Rose, 2006).

Additionally, he conveys important information about himself and his family in Act 1 that updates the audience on his past and current life: “I run a messenger service ‘The Beck and Call Company’. The name is my wife’s idea. I employ thirty-seven people…. Started with nothing” (Rose, 2006).

On the other hand, Juror No.4 appears to be short-tempered and irrational in his thinking. This is evident from his conversations, which entails self-disclosure. For instance, in Act 1 he says, “If we are going to discuss this case, let’s discuss the facts” (Rose, 2006). Likewise, Juror No.5 lets the audience into his life through self-disclosure. He reveals to the rest of the jury members that he spent most of his life in the slums. This is clear in Act 3 when he utters, “In my backyard, on my stoop, in the vacant lot across the street, too many of them. Switch knives came with the neighborhood where I lived” (Rose, 2006).

Similarly, the sixth Juror voluntarily conveys his feelings, which indicates that he does not love his painting job. He shows this by his proposal concerned with the continuation of arguments throughout the film. On the other hand, the seventh Juror informs the audience about his passion for ball games through his conversation. This even leads him to change his stand to ‘not guilty’ in order to end the case before the commencement of the game. This is clear in Act 1 where he utters, “This better be fast. I’ve tickets to the Seven Year Itch tonight. I must be the only guy in the world who hasn’t seen it yet (Rose, 2006)”. Likewise, Juror No.8 discloses about his life, hence aiding the audience to get to know him. In the film, he unveils that he is in the architecture industry. This is evident from the way he explains his arguments which is done by the use of apartment structures and measurements. He is the most conversant about construction aspects compared to the other jurors.

The ninth juror also voluntarily reveals his feelings about the case to the audience. From his conversations, it is evident that he agrees with the eighth juror’s point of view. This is apparent in various scenes of the film where he defends the accused boy. Similarly, the tenth juror conveys his feelings to the audience through self-disclosure. He holds a firm position as for the boy’s guilt. For instance, in Act 3 he states, “I don’t understand you people. How can you believe this kid is innocent? Look, you know those people lie. I do not have to tell you. They do not know what the truth is. And let me tell you, they don’t need any real big reason to kill someone either” (Rose, 2006).

Decision-Making in Small Groups

This aspect of communication is also evident in this film. It entails interpersonal communication within a group of less than twenty individuals. In most cases, the framework of their discussion is social. Because of their versatility on the topic’s facts among the group, the decisions are highly effective (Fisher, 1974). Nonetheless, the members have to be committed to the discussion in order to attain quality resolutions. In Twelve Angry Men, the film producer uses this aspect of communication to convey various themes. The movie under review features thirteen members of the jury deliberate on the verdict of a young boy accused of murder. All the jurors argue their points with an aim of deciding the fate of this child. Some members of the jury adhere to the opinion that the boy is guilty of the crime.

For example, the third juror illustrates the guilt of this teenager by saying, “I never saw a guiltier man in my life. You sat right in court and heard the same thing I did. The man is a dangerous killer. You could see it” (Rose, 2006). On the other hand, the eighth juror defends the boy, suggesting that there is a lack of evidence. He utters, “Do you think the boy would shout out a thing like that so that the whole neighborhood would hear it? I do not think so. He’s much too bright for that” (Rose, 2006). Towards the end of the film, the jury members discuss the issues amongst themselves and, finally, arrive at an agreement. Through voting, the jury decides the boy is not guilty of the murder crime.


In our society, violence is an aspect that we cannot ignore. Interestingly, communication plays an important role in reducing hostility in the community, which is predominantly done through negotiations (Signorielli, 2005). Mediations between the victims and instigators of violence, in the presence of a neutral third party, are crucial in solving violence cases efficiently. The producer of this film demonstrates the relationship existing between communication and violence. In the movie, the case before the jury is referred to a teenage boy who faces murder charges. The jury has a mandate of deciding the boy’s fate in relation to the crime. The court accuses the teenager of killing his father.

In addition, through the conversations of the jury, it is evident that the society is full of violence. For example, the eighth juror states, “Look, this kid has been kicked around all his life…He is a tough, angry kid. You know why slum kids get that way? Because we knock them on the head once a day, every day” (Rose, 2006). From this statement, it is evident that individuals in a community are unfriendly towards each other regardless of age. Furthermore, the fifth juror reveals that brutality was also present when he was growing up. Being familiar with the slums, he narrates how weapons such as switchblades were common in his neighborhood and lawbreakers used them to commit a crime.

Rhetorical Sensitivity

            Rhetorical sensitivity is crucial in efficient communication. In this respect, adjustment of a wide variety of communication skills is significant in order to utilize the most suitable reaction based on a clear perception of the context. This aspect focuses on the audience and is cautious of their feelings and thoughts. Moreover, it seeks to avoid negative criticism that may hurt the listeners (Carlson, 1978). The scriptwriter in various scenes of the film has used this feature to expound on various themes. Certain jurors are keen not to offend the teenager or his family through their talks despite the charges facing the boy.

For instance, the eighth juror is hesitant to consider the guilt of the teenager. In Act 1, he utters, “It is not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first”. This shows that he is softhearted and considerate with regard to other people’s emotions. On the other hand, the third juror lacks this feature of communication. He seems to have no problem in rejecting the innocence of this lad. In Act 1, he shows this by saying, “That is old enough. He knifed his own father, four inches into the chest. An innocent little nineteen-year old kid. They proved it a dozen different ways” (Rose, 2006). He hardly listens to the other jurors and even employs sarcasm to convict the teenager.

Persuasive Strategies

            Persuasive strategies in communication are useful in influencing someone’s stands or opinions. Efficient use of these tactics can help one to convince other parties with opposing opinions to join one’s school of thought. However, for this to happen the communicator ought to structure his or her information in a manner that will attract his or her audience. Moreover, the talker must demonstrate an appropriate personality depending on the issue at hand (Nothstine, 1989). For example, an individual should be able to express his or her views in a clear and influential manner. This is vital, as it will attract the listener’s attention hence influencing their thoughts.

In this film, there is some evidence of this communication aspect. In their arguments, each juror seeks to influence the position of the rest of the jury members. They all believe that the boy’s verdict should coincide with their opinion. For instance, the tenth juror tries to convince the juror No.8 to change his opinion on the boy. He utters,

“I don’t mind telling you this, mister. We do not owe him a thing. He got a fair trial, did not he? You know what the trial cost? He is lucky he got it. Look, we are all grownups here. You are not going to tell us that we are supposed to believe him, knowing what he is. I have lived among them all my life. You cannot believe a word they say. You know that” (Rose, 2006).

On the other hand, the eighth juror is convinced that the teenager is innocent and tries to draw the other members of the jury to his court. Throughout their deliberations, he provides notions that claim the boy’s innocence. For example, in Act 1 he states, “It’s possible that the boy lost the knife and that someone else stabbed his father with a similar knife. It’s possible” (Rose, 2006). Towards the end of the film, his persuasive strategies bear fruit as the majority of the jury members agree with his argument. This is clear when nine of them vote in favor of the boy’s innocence with three balloting against it.

Role Taking

            Role taking in communication involves identifying with the position of someone else in the interaction. In this aspect, the communicator positions himself or herself in the situation of the listener in order to ensure efficient communication of the intended message (Monk, 2001). This interaction feature is evident in the majority of the scenes in the movie. In an attempt to make the most appropriate decision, the members of the jury argue their points with the boy’s situation in mind. They analyze the facts surrounding the boy’s charges in order to decide on the fairest judgment concerning the case. For example, while arguing the inelegance of the old woman’s information, the eighth juror states, “Maybe she honestly thought she saw the boy kill her father. I say that she saw only a blur” (Act 1). This juror places himself in the woman’s position in order to disregard the information supporting her claims.

Social Influence

            Social influence manipulates interpersonal communications to some extent. It determines the relationship of individuals involved in a conversation. These relations are mainly in the social context, and their trend relies on conflicts, negotiations, and opinions (Social Influence, 2006). In the film in question, the use of this aspect of interpersonal communication strengthens the interaction between certain jurors while weakening the relations of others. For example, in Act 1, the fifth and the tenth jurors engage in an argument that turns personal attitude and builds tension between them. The fifth juror almost engages his opponent in a fistfight. He is furious about the sarcastic attitude of the tenth juror while addressing slum dwellers, because he grew up in such surroundings.

Leadership Styles

            Interpersonal communication plays a crucial role in leadership. The two aspects are dependent on one another. A leader ought to be an efficient communicator in order to illustrate competence to his followers (Kippenberger, 2002). This feature of communication is apparent in the film under consideration through the personalities of various characters. For example, the judge in the movie asks for an opinion from the jury in order to attain the fairest verdict on the boy’s case. While giving his advice to the jury in Act 1, he tells them, “Whichever way you decide, the verdict must be unanimous. I urge you to deliberate honestly and thoughtfully”. This shows the democracy of the justice system and proper leadership skills of the judge.


Interpersonal communication is an important aspect within communication that is influenced by several factors. From this film, it is evident how interpersonal communication plays a vital role within the society. It also determines many factors such as convincing people to take a stand, following a leader, making decisions as well as shaping relationships between people. On the other hand, it is affected by several factors such as violence that influences how people communicate, self-disclosure that is determined by the relationship between two people, amongst other factors. Within the film, it is evident that interpersonal communication has a role to play on how people relate with one another within a society, which makes is a crucial aspect of communication. More so, it influences how one might be viewed by others. Thus, competent communication can affect the relationship between people such as how they treat each other as well as what they are willing to communicate openly.










Carlson, R. E. (1978). Rhetorical sensitivity: Theoretical perspective, measurement, and implications in an interpersonal and organizational context.

Fisher, B. A. (1974). Small group decision making: Communication and the group process. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kippenberger, T. (2002). Leadership styles. Oxford, U.K: Capstone Pub.

Monk, R. C. (2001). Taking sides. Guilford, Conn: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill.

Nothstine, W. L. (1989). Influencing others: Successful strategies for persuasive communication. Los Altos, Calif: Crisp Publications.

Rose, R. (2006). Twelve angry men. New York: Penguin Books.

Rosner, B., Halcrow, A. R., & Levins, A. S. (2001). Communication. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Self-Assessment Update – Disclosure is the key. (January 01, 1997). Accountancy, 119, 1246, 139.

Signorielli, N. (2005). Violence in the media: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.

Social Influence. (2006). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

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