Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Future in the Past

Future in the Past expresses an idea or action that a person in retrospect thought might happen in the future regardless of the actual outcome. Liars often tell investigators what they would have done and not what they actually did. The following excerpt from a legal deposition demonstrates the use of Future in the Past

INVESTIGATOR: Tell me what you were doing just prior to the accident.

DRIVER: I was driving north on Main Street. I wanted to go to the super market so I had to change lanes. I did what I normally would’da done. I looked in my rear view mirror and if I didn’t see any cars, I’d look over my shoulder to check my blind spot. If everything was clear, I’d turn on my blinker and change lanes. The next thing I knew this car hit me.

The driver did not tell the investigator what he did. Using Future in the Past, the driver told the investigator what he would have done in similar circumstances. The driver gave the investigator the illusion that he looked in his rear view mirror for cars, looked over this shoulder to check his blind spot, activated his turn signal, and changed lanes when, in fact, this was not what he actually did. Future in the Past is sometimes difficult to detect in verbal speech, especially when the word would is combined with other words to form contractions. To counter Future in the Past, investigators should respond, “I didn’t ask what you would have done. I ask you what you actually did. What did you actually do?”