The trial takes place on the ‘hottest day of the year’. This inevitable heat sets the stage for the aggression that arises in the most of the men hence the title ’12 Angry Men’. Aggression can be described as any form of behavior that is intended to injure someone physically or psychologically. This suggest that aggression like any other behavior is provoked by many internal as well as external factors. Heat produces an uncomfortable arousal that may facilitate aggression.
This is further defined in the revised frustration- aggression hypothesis (Dobbs et. al. 1939), which states that factors like heat contribute to the building up of negative feelings that produce aggression. Aggression can also be explained in terms of internal factors. The biological factors that contribute to aggression are testosterone, serotonin and adrenaline. Heat as a type of arousal triggers the hormone adrenaline which is known for increasing blood flow and aiding in flight or fight Reponses. The jury is composed of 12 men, it is know that men have high levels of testosterone which is strongly related aggression. This would explain why there are multiple incidents in the movie where some form of aggression takes place.
For example, when Juror #10 makes judgmental statements about the boy because of environment that he grew up in, this strikes up anger in the timid Juror #5 who shares the same background. The combination of the heat and the frustration with Juror #10 comments supports the revised frustration aggression hypothesis for the reason for his aggression. Aggression is placed in three types, they are relation aggression, hostile aggression and instrumental aggression. Juror #10’s aggression can be explained in terms of hostile aggression; a form of aggression that stems from angry feeling.
He makes it very know of his angry feeling towards the boy due to his social economic status, this results in him throwing a tantrum when the jurors slowly one by one vote not guilty. The frustration – aggression hypothesis would also say that his aggression would come from the fact that his goal of having the boy convicted is not being met. Also it is well depicted that juror # 10 uses aggression a form of social status for a sense of power, because he is in a group it facilitates his aggression but when one by one when the jurors begin to ignore his tantrums by standing way from him he loses his power thus his angered stopped.
Undoubtedly, the topic of social perception was explicitly depicted throughout the film. Social perception is the study of how we form impressions of and make inferences about people, There are many theories that fall under the topic that is social perception, one being Attribution theory. This theory is concerned with the way in which people interpret other people’s behavior (Fiske & Taylor, 1991).
Attributions are the causal judgments about why the event or behavior occurred. These attributions can be either internal (made about a person’s characteristics, e. . personality) or external (made about a person’s situation e. g. weather). One type of the attribution theory that helps us to determine the “why” in behavior is the Kelley’s Covariation Model of Attribution (Kelley, 1967). In this model, behaviour is analyzed to see how well it is correlated either internal or external factors or a combination of both. When making attributions using the Kelley’s covariation there are three criteria in which the attributions are based on: consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency.
Consensus criterion is whether the behavior is correlated with the situation or in other terms whether different people do this behavior in the same situation. Distinctiveness refers to the correlation between behaviour and the individual specifically how unique the behavior is to that particular situation. Last out of the three is consistency which looks at how behavior is correlated with both the person and the situation that is, is the behavior is the same towards the situation across time. When determining the likely hood of the behavior to occur, we assess the levels of each of the three criteria.
The different combination of the levels of each produces the type of attribution for the given situation: Low Consensus, Low Distinctiveness, High Consistency = Internal Attribution; High Consensus, High Distinctiveness, High Consistency = External Attribution; High Consensus, Low Distinctiveness, Low Consistency = Circumstance Attribution (both internal and external). This model can be applied to the film because we can analyze the process or the ‘why’ in which the jurors were able to form their impressions of the boy.
We can infer that consensus is low – the men would say that only people who come from a poor background would commit such acts of violence. Distinctiveness is also low- the jurors also argue that this is not the boy’s first time acting out in violence, shedding light at the fact that he has been in a knife fight before. Consistency, however, is high – the jurors mentions that when the boy is faced with an altercation his actions usually result in violence. Based on this, an internal attribution was made about the boys’ behavior by the jurors, that he is a corrupt individual.
It is internal attribution that sways there opinion of the boy, holding him fully accountable for the murder. Making such attributions leads to bias and errors when making inferences about a person’s behavior. The fundamental attribution error, also known as the correspondence bias, is the inclination to place a stronger emphasis on internal characteristics than taking in to account the external factors when explaining someone else’s behavior (Ross et al, 1977). The juror assume that the boys so claimed action of killing his father reflects his personality.
They are exhibiting the fundamental attribution error because they have failed to look at the situational factors that also play a huge role in a case such as this one. The men fell prey to this bias because it is automatic process that requires no time or effort to do. If they had more motivation and time into they would be able to correct their internal bias. Juror #8 identifies this problem quickly and is able to get the men to sit and talk about the matter more depth. This small act gets them to put more effort to thinking about the evidence presented than to solely base their vote on the internal attribution they formed about the boy.