In Drunk Tank Pink, Adam Alter explains why word choice really matters in the Courtroom. A research group was questioned regarding a video of a car wreck using different terms to describe the accident. Respondents who were asked what happened after the cars “smashed” together estimated higher speeds and more damage while respondents who were asked what happened after the vehicles made “contact” responded with significantly lower speeds and less damage. After a week the group was questioned again and reported additional damages not shown in the video or described previously, establishing that terminology can actually plant false memories.
Information is power in the courtroom and word choice can make the difference between a guilty verdict and a not guilty verdict.