Metaphors are a powerful tool of communication and thought, but their use in social communication is currently understudied. Four studies investigate with different methods and in relation to various social targets whether metaphors are strategically used to persuade, to sustain a specific worldview and to perpetuate social stereotypes. The first study experimentally confirms that metaphors are a) preferred and b) more frequently used when the goal of the communication is to persuade (vs. inform) other people about a specific issue. The second archival study shows that in Italian newspaper articles different types of metaphors are used to describe Italian vs. Immigrant criminals, specifically that Italian aggressors are described in terms of explosion (e.g., The aggressor’s violence exploded against the victim), whereas Immigrant aggressors are described as beasts (e.g., The immigrant was a beast who attacked its prey). In the third study clinically cases were presented either with a metaphor (e.g., the matchstick girl was anorexic) or with a literal correspondent (e.g., the skinny girl was anorexic) to lay people or people trained in clinical psychology. Results show that metaphors (vs. literal correspondents) exacerbate negative stereotypes of the targets among lay people (but not among clinical psychologists). Finally, Study 3 test and confirm the strategic use of metaphors in intergroup context, showing that metaphors are specifically preferred to communicate negative (vs. positive) characteristics of outgroup (vs. ingroup) members. Together the presented set of studies presents preliminary evidence for a critical role of metaphor use in social communication.

Metaphors we group by. The role metaphors in social communication.

SUITNER, CATERINA;ARCURI, LUCIANO
2014

Abstract

Metaphors are a powerful tool of communication and thought, but their use in social communication is currently understudied. Four studies investigate with different methods and in relation to various social targets whether metaphors are strategically used to persuade, to sustain a specific worldview and to perpetuate social stereotypes. The first study experimentally confirms that metaphors are a) preferred and b) more frequently used when the goal of the communication is to persuade (vs. inform) other people about a specific issue. The second archival study shows that in Italian newspaper articles different types of metaphors are used to describe Italian vs. Immigrant criminals, specifically that Italian aggressors are described in terms of explosion (e.g., The aggressor’s violence exploded against the victim), whereas Immigrant aggressors are described as beasts (e.g., The immigrant was a beast who attacked its prey). In the third study clinically cases were presented either with a metaphor (e.g., the matchstick girl was anorexic) or with a literal correspondent (e.g., the skinny girl was anorexic) to lay people or people trained in clinical psychology. Results show that metaphors (vs. literal correspondents) exacerbate negative stereotypes of the targets among lay people (but not among clinical psychologists). Finally, Study 3 test and confirm the strategic use of metaphors in intergroup context, showing that metaphors are specifically preferred to communicate negative (vs. positive) characteristics of outgroup (vs. ingroup) members. Together the presented set of studies presents preliminary evidence for a critical role of metaphor use in social communication.
17th General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3033121
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