Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Metaphorical Minds

Thanks Zenpundit for this interesting NYT post from Robert Sapolsky on metaphorical thinking. He cites research by investigators such as Chen-Bo Zhong who found that people recently excluded from a group really do feel colder (they ask for warmer drinks and snacks) and people who recently confessed to unethical lapses feel dirty (they're more likely to choose antiseptic wipes for a complimentary gift over pencils).

In other research, scientists found that metaphoric 'priming' could change social and political attitudes. Little creepy, huh? Subliminal effects. If one looks at Marcel Just's work involving literal and metaphorical meanings though, it's not surprising that cross-talk occurs. What is so surprising is how common it is and how significant the effect. It's an interesting thought that we are journeying through life constantly triggering metaphorical and literal meanings of which we are dimly aware.

No wonder strong language can seem like an assault and gut feelings are physical. Perhaps some very sensitive souls (poets etc.) are more in touch with our metaphorical milieu.

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