When Do Natural Language Metaphors Influence Reasoning?

Steen, Reijnierse and Burgers offer a critical view of an earlier study of Thibodeau and Boroditsky (2013) on how metaphorical framing influences reasoning.

In this paper, Steen, Reijnierse and Burgers have reported four studies that comprise a follow-up study to Thibodeau and Boroditsky who report an effect of metaphorical framing on readers’ preference for political measures after exposure to a short text on the increase of crime in a fictitious town: when crime was metaphorically presented as a beast, readers became more enforcement-oriented than when crime was metaphorically framed as a virus. In contrast to the original studies, Steen, Reijnierse and Burgers consistently found no effects of metaphorical frames on policy preference. Therefore, the experiments provide converging evidence raising questions about when metaphors do and do not influence reasoning.

Romy van den Heerik • January 12, 2015

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