Your English teacher wasn’t kidding: Grammar really does matter. The verb form used to describe an action can affect how the action is perceived—and these subtle variations could mean the difference between an innocent or guilty verdict in criminal law, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
William Hart, of the University of Alabama, was inspired to conduct the study by research on how people think about narratives. “Research was showing that when you describe somebody’s actions in terms of what they’re ‘doing,’ that action is way more vivid in [a reader’s] mind” than if the action is described in terms of what the person ‘did.’ At the same time, other researchers had found that when people imagine action vividly, they were more likely to think the person performing the action was doing it intentionally. (more…)