The Poetry of Everyday Life: Toward a Metaphor-Enriched Social Cognition
AuthorLandau, Mark Jordan
Committee ChairGreenberg, Jeff
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractHow, at a fundamental level, do people construe their social world? Mainstream perspectives on social cognition posit that we do so largely by applying hierarchically structured concepts (or schemas) about similar classes of people and events to selectively interpret and elaborate on the complex array of social information. In this dissertation I propose a complementary perspective according to which people lend meaning to the social world in large part through conceptual metaphors that use the structure of familiar, typically concrete concepts to reason about and evaluate information in dissimilar, typically more abstract conceptual domains. I describe a model of metaphor-enriched social cognition (MESC) that provides a preliminary framework for understanding the role of conceptual metaphor in everyday social thought and action. I review research supporting hypotheses derived from the model with respect to the effects of conceptual metaphor on social perception, attitudes, and behavior, and I present four studies designed to further test these hypotheses. Study 1 shows that the sensation of being physically burdened increased the subjective obligatory nature of everyday activities. Study 2 shows that images depicting historically significant people and events (both positively and negatively valenced) were perceived as larger in size than those depicting historically insignificant people and events. In Study 3, priming participants with the beneficial consequences of physical covering led to more permissive attitudes toward the government withholding information from the public, and this effect was specific to those with ambivalent prior attitudes toward the value of governmental secrecy. Study 4 showed that a heightened motivation to protect one's own body from contamination led to harsher attitudes toward immigrants entering the United States among those subtly primed to conceptualize the country as a body but not those primed with a literal conception of the country. Although further research and theoretical refinement are necessary, the MESC model is a step toward acquiring a richer, more general conception of everyday social meaning-making and its implications for social life.