Learning About What Others Were Doing: Verb Aspect and Attributions of Mundane and Criminal Intent for Past Actions

Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, PO Box 873048, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 02/2011; 22(2):261-6. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610395393
Source: PubMed


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.

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    • "Q 10 = 18.626, p = .045). 3 Typically, this indicates the instability of an effect (i.e., variation in true effect sizes being measured by different studies) and/ or the influence of a moderator. Although all lab studies were run using comparable participants and conditions, we cannot rule out that the heterogeneity is due to a (not yet identified) moderator, such as regional differences in " conservativeness " (Hart & Albarracín, 2011). The meta-analysis displayed in Figure 2also shows a small effect in the opposite direction to that reported in the original study for detailed processing. "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Perspectives on Psychological Science
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    • "The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.Introduction to RRR:Hart & Albarracín (2011) "

    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Perspectives on Psychological Science
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    • "First,Tosun et al.explicitly manipulated linguistic form and tested the effect of form on subsequent memory for the information presented in an utterance and the form in which the utterance was presented. These findings are reminiscent of findings from English speakers showing that choices about the explicit linguistic framing of information affect eyewitness memory (e.g.,Hart & Albarricin, 2011;Strack & Bless, 1994). This method differs from typical investigations of the language–cognition interface that use nonlinguistic tasks to test whether different language groups conceptualize information in different ways even if language is not involved in the task (e.g.,Dolscheid, Shayan, Majid, & Casasanto, 2013;for a review, see Gleitman & Papafragou, 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: When monitoring the origins of their memories, people tend to mistakenly attribute memories generated from internal processes (e.g., imagination, visualization) to perception. Here, we ask whether speaking a language that obligatorily encodes the source of information might help prevent such errors. We compare speakers of English to speakers of Turkish, a language that obligatorily encodes information source (direct/perceptual vs. indirect/hearsay or inference) for past events. In our experiments, participants reported having seen events that they had only inferred from post-event visual evidence. In general, error rates were higher when visual evidence that gave rise to inferences was relatively close to direct visual evidence. Furthermore, errors persisted even when participants were asked to report the specific sources of their memories. Crucially, these error patterns were equivalent across language groups, suggesting that speaking a language that obligatorily encodes source of information does not increase sensitivity to the distinction between perception and inference in event memory.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Memory and Language
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