How verb tense affects the construal of action: The simple past tense leads people into an abstract mindset

Pilar Carrera, Dolores Muñoz, Amparo Caballero, Itziar Fernández, Pilar Aguilar, Dolores Albarracín

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Two experiments examined the influence of verb tense on how abstractly people construe action representations. Experiment 1 revealed that written descriptions of several daily events using the simple past tense (vs. simple present tense) resulted in actions and the action's target being seen as less likely and less familiar, respectively. In Experiment 2 participants wrote about a personal episode of binge drinking (using the simple past tense vs. simple present tense), and the resulting narratives were coded using the Linguistic Category Model (see Semin & Fiedler, 1991). Results revealed that events were described at a more abstract level when texts were written using the simple past tense (vs. simple present tense). The results are discussed in the context of other effects of verb form and in relation to construal level of events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalPsicologica
Volume35
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

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    Carrera, P., Muñoz, D., Caballero, A., Fernández, I., Aguilar, P., & Albarracín, D. (2014). How verb tense affects the construal of action: The simple past tense leads people into an abstract mindset. Psicologica, 35(2), 209-223.