Loftus and Palmer

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  • We had 7 film segments of a car crash; participants watched them and then were asked questions using different verbs in different groups.
  • LOTUS AND PALMER (1974)
  • Each group had a different verb in their question, it was the independent variable (IV). The dependent variable (DV) was the speeds the participants estimated. You might find the results surprising...
  • ______MPH
  • How fast were the cars going when they smashed or collided or bumped or hit or contacted?
  • VERB:
  • Smashed Collided Bumped Hit Contacted
  • As you can see, there is quite a difference in the estimates - there is nearly a 10mph difference between "smashed" and "contacted" - clearly the different use of verbs affected their perception of the speed.
  • AVERAGE ESTIMATED SPEED (MPH):
  • 40.8 39.3 38.1 34.0 31.8
  • We then did a similar experiment but this time added a new question to the mix: did they see the smashed glass, although there was no actual smashed glass. There were only three groups this time: one asked using the verb "smashed", one "hit" and the last were not asked about the speed.
  • We did a similar procedure to the first experiment, but after a week we then asked the participants this extra question in another questionaire. The IV was the wording of the question and the DV was the answer to this new question.
  • YES/NO
  • Did you see the smashed glass?
  • Again, the results show that the verb had a profound effect on the participants' perception of the incidents - "smashed" had a higher amount of people saying they saw glass than the "hit" and control group despite there being none.
  • Smashed Hit Control
  • Yes: 16 7 6
  • No: 34 43 44
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