Learning about what others were doing: verb aspect and attributions of mundane and criminal intent for past actions.
ABSTRACT Scientists have long been interested in understanding how language shapes the way people relate to others, yet it remains unclear how formal aspects of language influence person perception. We tested whether the attribution of intentionality to a person is influenced by whether the person's behaviors are described as what the person was doing or as what the person did (imperfective vs. perfective aspect). In three experiments, participants who read what a person was doing showed enhanced accessibility of intention-related concepts and attributed more intentionality to the person, compared with participants who read what the person did. This effect of the imperfective aspect was mediated by a more detailed set of imagined actions from which to infer the person's intentions and was found for both mundane and criminal behaviors. Understanding the possible intentions of others is fundamental to social interaction, and our findings show that verb aspect can profoundly influence this process.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Dolores Albarracin, Mar 02, 2014
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ABSTRACT: We sought to bridge findings showing that (a) describing a person's behavior with the perfective verb aspect (did), compared to the imperfective aspect (was doing), increases processing of semantic knowledge unrelated to the target's action such as stereotypes and (b) an increased recognition of stereotypical thoughts often promotes a judgment correction for the stereotypes. We hypothesized an interplay between grammar (verb conjugation) and semantic information (gender) in impression-formation. Participants read a resume, attributed to a male or female, for a traditionally masculine job. When the resume was written in the imperfective, people rated a male (vs. female) more positively. When the resume was in the perfective, this pattern reversed. Only these latter effects of gender were influenced by cognitive load. Further, people more quickly indicated the applicant's gender in the perfective condition, suggesting an enhanced focus on gender during processing.Cognition 06/2014; 132(3):455-460. DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.05.007 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In two pilot studies, we investigate the possibility that patterns in our linguistic environment affect the likelihood of accepting misinformation. Turkish, which marks its verbs for the source of a speaker's evidence (first-hand perception vs. hearsay), was contrasted with English which does not mark its verbs but which, to signal strength of evidence, must employ optional lexical marking. In the first pilot study, Turkish adults were shown to be affected by that language's obligatory evidential markings: their free recall for details of the events changed as a function of the type of the tense-aspect marker in use, and strong evidential markers led to increased levels of suggestibility when employed with misleading questions. In the second pilot study, Turkish- and English-speaking children were shown to be differentially suggestible depending on combinations of evidential markers in the story presented and the evidential marker employed in the misinformation subsequently provided. Together, these two pilot studies show promise in this area of research, which has been ignored by the forensic community and yet would seem to be relevant when interviewing, taking statements, and giving testimony in cross-linguistic settings. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.Behavioral Sciences & the Law 09/2013; 31(5). DOI:10.1002/bsl.2077 · 0.96 Impact Factor
Article: Verb aspect and problem solving[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Verb aspect conveys the temporal flow of an action, such as whether it is on-going or complete. If language guides how situation models are to be constructed, then verb aspect could influence cognition that would use situation models, as in solving insight problems. In this study, verb aspect within the insight problem was manipulated to determine if the imperfective aspect (was accepting) or perfective aspect (accepted) influenced people's solution rates. Results revealed that solution rates for problems that depended on the way an action was being done within the problem were better when the imperfective aspect was used. For problems that did not focus on the action of the sentence, solution rates were better when the perfective aspect was used. The language used to convey problems can influence the ease which people are able to arrive at a solution.Cognition 05/2013; 128(2):134-139. DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.03.012 · 3.63 Impact Factor