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Industrial-Organizational Psychology in Film

Industrial-Organizational (I/O) psychology is the study of human behavior at work and it is concerned with the development of and application of scientific principles to the workplace (Spector, 2008). In this field of I/O psychology there are many topics that outlined how individuals will perform at work and how successful they will be. Some of these topics are as fallows Goal setting, Selection, Employee Motivation, Job satisfaction, Emotions at work, Burnout, and Occupational Stress. In the film, 12 Angry Men (Rose et al.

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, 1957) shows various topics of I/O psychology that are concerned with the 12 jurors in their workplace and their decision-making.

In this paper I will explain how the film, 12 Angry Men (Rose et al., 1957) explains several topics of I/O psychology on how they are applied in the workplace. I will begin by given a short synopsis of the film and then explain five different I/O psychology topics that were portrayed in the film. The I/O psychology topics that I will discuss are as fallows, goal setting, job satisfaction, emotions at work, occupational stress, and finally group think Movie Sypnosis

The film, 12 Angry Men (Rose et al., 1957) is a classic movie about 12 white men deciding the sentence of a 18 year old kid who has allegedly committed murder in the first degree by stabbing and killing his father to death. The movie begins showing the different jurors walking into the courtroom at different times. The presiding judge over the courtroom delivers the decision to the jurors that they must decide if the kid is guilty or not.

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If the kid were to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt he will be sent to the electric chair. Fallowing in the film the jurors are sent to deliberate the fate of the kid. They enter the room in what was said to be the hottest day of the summer, but everyone is in laughter and ready to make their decision.

At the first deliberation everyone votes guilty except for one man his reason as to why he didn’t cast his vote as guilty was because he couldn’t decide that fast over the life of a kid. The man is Henry Fonda the main protagonist of the movie, juror number 8 the only juror who wanted to give the kid a chance because a reasonable doubt.

The movie continues with argument from other jurors wanting to convict the kid to the electric chair because they thought he was guilty. But as the discussion heats up Juror 8 keeps convincing everyone to a reasonable doubt that the kid is not guilty. As other jurors began to turn their decisions the emotions in this workplace escalate and so does the stress. The group must come together and reach a verdict but with dissatisfied jurors and little motivation how could they? In the end of the movie the final verdict is reach and those who were fast-acting decision making jurors cast their vote as not guilty. I/O Topics

Goal Setting

Goal setting is a theory of motivation and it says that “people’s behavior are motivated by their internal intentions, objectives or goals” (Spector, 2008 p.207). According to the theory it explains that goals are what a person consciously wants to attain and the things that they are going to do to get it. These goals can be specific or general, for example being able to run a marathon is a specific goal but being able to run is a general goal for someone. Also some goals are not meant for everyone ones goal should be able to be attained, some goals that effective for a orientation might not be necessary from the other.

Locke and Henne (1986) said that there were four ways in which goals affect behavior. First the goals need to direct attention and action to behaviors the person believes will achieve the goal. Second, the goals mobilize effort in that the person will try harder. Third, goals increase persistence and this will result in more time spent on behaviors necessary for goal achievement.

And finally goals can motivate the search for effective strategies to attain them. For every goal that is desire by an individual in order to be effective goals also need to fallow four more principles. One of the four principles is that goals must be specific and not vague because one can easily get tangled the objective. Second, goals need to be committed and have a sense of ownership to an individual because they are more likely to attain the goal. Third, feedback needs to be given by employer or organization on how an employee is doing. Finally goals need to be difficult because it will result in better performance and the person will work harder to achieve it (Spector, 2008).

In 12 Angry Men, we see the goal setting of the different jurors. In the second scene of the movie when all the jurors entered the deliberation room the juror 1, the Foreman was the leader of voting he organized everyone around the table and the goal was to vote on the sentence of guilty and not guilty. Juror 1, main goal was to get the other jurors votes he committed his goal by asking a showing of hands to those who thought the kid was guilty or not guilty.

All the jurors goal was to reach a verdict based their vote of guilty or not, everyone was entitled to their own opinion since the goal was committed to them and the feedback that they receive from their decision was given by the other jurors. Once the first vote was cast to show that all 11 other jurors found the kid to be guilty except for juror 8. Here we see the entitlement of the goal of juror 8 his goal was to reach a decision and he decided of not guilty. The feedback was received from the other jurors when all of them started to get loud and grumpy because his decision differ from theirs.

The film demonstrated the topic of goal setting to be use correctly because in the film at the first voting everyone agreed but one person. But as the film progress the juror’s vote and their final goal began to shift when several factors were put on the table that the kid might not be guilty after all. I/O psychologists explained that the goals needed to be specific and committed, well in the film the juror’s goals was their own opinion to guilty or not and why was. The decision was not easy and many jurors where dissatisfied and their well being was not optimal because it was very hot that afternoon. Using the principles of goal setting could of helped the jurors reached a conclusion rather quickly than they did; if they had all agreed when Juror 8 was explaining as to why the kid might not be guilty because a reasonable doubt. Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is how people feel about their jobs, and there are two ways of looking job satisfaction global and facet approach. According to Spector (2008), the global approach treats job satisfaction as a single, overall feeling toward the job. But the facet approach say that satisfaction focus on different aspects of the job such as pay, supervision, coworkers, communication, benefits, and promotion. Many people express their level of their satisfaction by showing up everyday to work and being on time, also based on the facet approach it can be explain to their pay, some people got to work because they like the people they work with, or are wanting a promotion, and other factors.

Staw and Cohen-Charash (2005) identified other factors that lead to job satisfaction; the factors are personality, gender, and age. These factors contribute to a person overall satisfaction because their personality can link for them to be negativity affectivity, and their locus of control. You would want some one that is not negative and have an internal focus of control to experience the best job satisfaction. Also someone who is young is more likely to experience negative job satisfaction than someone who is old and has moved up in the career ladder within the company. A study has proved that gender has shown to not influence job satisfaction (Witt & Nye, 1992).

Job satisfaction in the movie is that of Juror 8 because he could not convict the kid because he was not yet satisfied with the decision of the other jurors. Its reason was that there was a reasonable doubt to not convict the kid to murder, meaning he wasn’t going to decide that rather quickly. Also other example of job satisfaction was how negative Juror 3 was and Juror 10 when the other jurors began to change their vote. They tried to convince themselves and the others without looking at the possibility of a reasonable doubt. These Jurors were very dissatisfied with the other juror’s decision of turning their vote.

The movie demonstrated job satisfaction to be done correctly it seemed, as the cast were to be conform of people who would experience higher levels of job satisfaction than others. It was done correctly because some of the jurors like number 3,7, and 10 showed higher levels of dissatisfaction because of their negativity to evaluate the facts and evidence of a reasonable doubt given by the other jurors. The principles of job satisfaction like their focus of control being able to have internal and controlling their decisions rather than relying in powerful facts that the kid was guilty because of the eye witnesses could have lead them to a easier decision.

And they will all have experience better well being without getting so angry and dissatisfied. But we can see at the end that the I/O principles were apply and those who were dissatisfied became satisfied whenever they changed their vote of guilty to not guilty because they looked away from their negativity. Also it gave all the jurors a sense of satisfaction for finding a kid that presumably that was guilty to not guilty and saving his life. Emotions at work

Emotions are explained by Spector (2008) to be an important component of life, and providing not only resources to acquire the necessities of life but a sense of purpose and social contacts as well. Also accomplishment is a type of feeling that will provide people with positive feelings such as pride, joy. But a heated argument in the workplace can result in feelings of anger and annoyance toward the supervisors or the organization in general. People who experience positive and reinforcing emotions at work will perform well in their job duties. Brief and Weiss (2002) said that stressful and aversive emotions at work can produce negative emotions states and moods.

In the film 12 Angry Men, juror 10 and juror 3 showed the most emotions mostly negative while juror 8 showed positive emotions while looking for a reasonable doubt that the kid might not be guilty of stabbing his father. Juror 10 said “ the kid lives in the slum, is had a bad record in the past for knife fighting, his no good kid that’s why his guilty” (Rose, R. 1957). This juror was very much showing his emotions and most of them seem to be negative that’s why he experience the most dissatisfaction and he had to kept wiping his nose every time he spoke very angrily regarding the matter. Juror 3 wanted to punch Juror 8 because they had difference of opinions and Juror 6 wanted to fight juror 3 because he didn’t shut up.

The movie seems to cover up all the emotions that these state appointed juror showed while they were delivering the verdict. It’s a very hard decision to make and when people differ in opinion some of the jurors got really excited and the temper escalated. The topic of emotions at work was demonstrated corrected because in I/O psychology they are concerned in how people behave at work either positively or negatively (Spector, 2008). It was very well expressed the amount of anger juror 3, and juror 10 had towards the other jurors that gradually change their votes too not guilty.

The characters needed to apply positive emotions and deep surface acting to experience less negative emotions towards the matter that they were discussing. If they had better moods and emotions they will had experience more positive reinforcement in their jobs as jurors. Because positive emotions in the workplace result in better performance in the case of the juror will be the decision-making and more satisfaction for their jobs. But the movie is not called 12 Angry Men for nothing, so that’s why many of the jurors expressed negative emotions. Occupational Stress

Occupational stress is a state of being that has experienced by almost everyone. Occupational stress starts with a job stressor, which is a condition at work that requires and adaptive response (Spector, 2008). It is then fallowed by a job strain, which is a reaction to the job stressor. Some of these job stressors identified by Spector (2008), are role ambiguity, role conflict, workload, Social stressor and control. In role ambiguity and employee is uncertain about what their job functions and responsibilities are.

In role conflict the employee people experience negative demands at work and outside work (extrarole and intrarole). In intrarole are too many demands a job is asking of their employee, extrarole occurs when demands from work and nonwork domains become overwhelming. Workload is the amount of work an employee is ask to complete in a certain time, as to a social stressor is stressful incidents concerning other people often can lead to incivility. Finally control the extent in which employees can make decisions about work.

With regards to the film an example that depicts occupational stress is the overwhelming decision of whether the kid was guilty or not. A stressful situation is when at the beginning of the voting juror 8 decides that the kid is not guilty he puts himself in a stressful situation because his peers do no agree with him and he has to prove to them why he doesn’t think that the kid is guilty. He experiences a lot of role conflict within his job because now all the other 11 jurors are making a lot of demands as to why his decisions is what it is. This is called in the movie intrarole situation because since all the jurors are against his decision to decide that there is a reasonable doubt for the kid not being guilty.

The movie shows that occupational stress is a major part of being a juror because since everyone is bound to have their own opinion they can all differ from one another. This stress leads to job stressor that can cause some of the jurors to get burnout in the process, just like juror 7 change his vote to not guilty because he wanted to leave without any reason.

The I/O topic of occupational stress in the job as a juror is utilize correctly in the movie because it apply to several principles of this topic like role conflict cause intrarole to juror 8 since he was with almost all the weight on his shoulders and the most stress to explain to the other jurors his decision and he also had a social stressor given by the other jurors difference of opinions. Juror 8 was almost assaulted in the movie because he didn’t agree with the rest ultimately he had control of his own decisions and why it lead to the whole jury changing their vote to not guilty. It lead to an overall better decision and more satisfaction even though there was a lot of stress and tension among the jurors. Group-Think

Groupthink is a phenomenon that can occur when groups make decisions that individual members know are poor decisions. According to Janis (1972) groupthink is more likely to occur in cohesive groups with strong leaders. Because social pressures to maintain a certain level of conformity and harmony takes over good decision-making. But that’s not the end we cant always think that every time there is group the phenomenon of groupthink is likely to occurs there are some things we can do to avoid it explained by Janis (1972).

The first thing leaders should be impartial moderators rather than attempting to gain control. Second, group members should evaluate decision alternatives and seek for information that can support or refute their decision. But this is not all to help with this problem sometimes is suggested that large groups to be divided into smaller groups where people can decide better among some critical issues within a organization which eventually can lead to the correct decision.

A good example of groupthink in the movie is when juror 8 decides to cast his votes as not guilty while the other eleven members thought the accuser was guilty. In this case we see that groupthink being evolve as one of the jurors exclaims as to why he would decide that the kid was innocent and he insisted that juror 8 had ignore all the evidence. Juror 8 said, “ I am not saying he didn’t do it, but there is a possibility that he didn’t, I have a reasonable doubt” (Rose, R. 1957). Juror 8 decisions to go against the other jurors vote is thought by him to be right while the other eleven jurors knew their decision was the right one. He thought that the decision for all eleven members to cast their vote as guilty was wrong and he wanted an explanation as to why they thought the kid was guilty.

The movie demonstrated the topic being use incorrectly because the group did not wanted to agree with the other juror that thought the group decision was wrong. The leader being juror 1 didn’t sit impartial to the decision while he let some others like juror 2 and 10 control the decisions of the whole group of jurors. Also the other jury members did not evaluated their decision to cast their vote as guilty to either supported or refuted it they just kind of went what the leaders were voting.

The topic would had been shown more effectively in the movie if the group of jurors had divided in to two groups and both evaluated different sides of evidence and then presented each other and make a vote from there. Rather I was open where a few that stood strong in their decisions where fallow by those who didn’t. Also another big issue is that there was no diversity among the groups it was an all white jury with no women or anything that was different. Maybe if the director would have added a women or a person of color into the group to have another point of view from a different background the decision might have been better received at first. Conclusion

In the world that we live today there are many jobs and different principles of I/O psychology that can be apply to a specific job. It is not easy dealing with the demanding qualifications some jobs require and with the certain things an employee needs to put up with. As depicted in the film 12 Angry Men, being a juror in a specific trial can take a toll on the jurors, but in this film we saw that the jury had a clear and identifiable goal that was to reach a verdict concerning the life of 18-year-old kid.

The juror satisfaction of this state appointed job might not always be the best at the beginning because of their different attitudes, but I can be very rewarding to save a persons life in the end. Emotions are a key thing jurors face when facing a hard decisions but always being positive and staying clear of the objective can help with the decision. But at the same time with emotions can bring a lot of stress for this occupation a juror must be able to face it and control and look into the bigger perspective. In the end we use groupthink to make decision being diverse will help an reach decisions rather quickly but sometimes it will not work out that way for those power hungry individuals. There will be no more rewarding job then going home knowing that you did the right thing and helped society.


  1. Rose, R. (writer), Lumet, S. (director), Fonda, H. (writer). (1957). 12 Angry men. [Motion Picture]. United States: Orion-Nova Productions
  2. Spector, P. E. (2008). Industrial and Organizational Behavior, 5th Edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

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Industrial-Organizational Psychology in Film. (2017, Apr 02). Retrieved from

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