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Metaphorical Communication: The Effects of Figurative Language on Impression Formation

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Abstract:

Previous research in communications and psychology confirms that literal trait (e.g., “hostile”) and stereotype (e.g., “African-American”) expectancies can influence a perceiver’s interpretation of ambiguous information about a target person. In some cases, however, perceivers may possess a metaphorical expectancy regarding a target person (e.g., “My boss is a baby”). The present research demonstrates that metaphorical language of this nature can produce analogous effects on the interpretation of ambiguous information about a person. Participants received a behavioral passage about a person named Donald that was ambiguous with regard to hostility. The passage also included a metaphor which described Donald. The metaphor either implied hostility (“Donald is a pit-bull”, “Donald is a Nazi”) or was neutral (“Donald is a bird”). The serial position of the metaphor was also manipulated, with the metaphor either coming at the beginning or at the end of the passage. Participants then rated Donald and his behaviors along a series of trait dimensions. Results showed that participants rated Donald’s behaviors to be significantly more hostile when the metaphor implied hostility and when it came before the ambiguous paragraph rather than after (B = -0.570, p = 0.04), suggesting that metaphors act as an expectancy or frame that guides the processing and interpretation of subsequently presented information.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

donald (172), metaphor (129), trait (94), rate (94), hostil (80), behavior (77), effect (60), posit (53), negat (50), interpret (39), nazi (39), ambigu (33), particip (33), p (31), interact (29), valenc (29), person (28), relev (27), 1 (26), kind (26), signific (26),

Author's Keywords:

metaphors, impression formation, figurative language
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Name: International Communication Association
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http://www.icahdq.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p230464_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Renstrom, Randall., Krumdick, Nathaniel. and Ottati, Victor. "Metaphorical Communication: The Effects of Figurative Language on Impression Formation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 22, 2008 <Not Available>. 2017-09-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p230464_index.html>

APA Citation:

Renstrom, R. A., Krumdick, N. D. and Ottati, V. C. , 2008-05-22 "Metaphorical Communication: The Effects of Figurative Language on Impression Formation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Online <PDF>. 2017-09-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p230464_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Previous research in communications and psychology confirms that literal trait (e.g., “hostile”) and stereotype (e.g., “African-American”) expectancies can influence a perceiver’s interpretation of ambiguous information about a target person. In some cases, however, perceivers may possess a metaphorical expectancy regarding a target person (e.g., “My boss is a baby”). The present research demonstrates that metaphorical language of this nature can produce analogous effects on the interpretation of ambiguous information about a person. Participants received a behavioral passage about a person named Donald that was ambiguous with regard to hostility. The passage also included a metaphor which described Donald. The metaphor either implied hostility (“Donald is a pit-bull”, “Donald is a Nazi”) or was neutral (“Donald is a bird”). The serial position of the metaphor was also manipulated, with the metaphor either coming at the beginning or at the end of the passage. Participants then rated Donald and his behaviors along a series of trait dimensions. Results showed that participants rated Donald’s behaviors to be significantly more hostile when the metaphor implied hostility and when it came before the ambiguous paragraph rather than after (B = -0.570, p = 0.04), suggesting that metaphors act as an expectancy or frame that guides the processing and interpretation of subsequently presented information.


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