The effect of verb aspect on cognitive dissonance and social influence
The present research addresses whether describing a prior decision-making act as ongoing using the imperfective verb aspect (rather than describing it as completed using the perfective verb aspect) influences attitudes toward the decision and tendencies to make similar decisions. In Experiment 1, participants who described their prior decision-making act using the perfective (vs. imperfective) aspect indicated greater decision satisfaction (i.e., a larger preference for their chosen over the unchosen alternative). In Experiment 2, participants viewed the decision to agree to a small request in the perfective (vs. imperfective) aspect and were then asked a larger, more costly request. Though it was expected that participants who viewed the perfective (vs. imperfective) in their descriptions would demonstrate more compliance, the results suggested verb aspect had no effect on compliance. All told, the present research provides mixed evidence for understanding how subtle language features shapes basic thought processes, but may hold important implications for understanding cognitive dissonance and decision-making processes.