Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cognitive Linguistics, Metaphor and Social Cognition

There's an interesting new article in the new issue of Psychological Bullettin arguing that our ability for metaphoric thinking (e.g. Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) plays a role in social cognition.
Here's the abstract (see here) :

"Social cognition is the scientific study of the cognitive events underlying social thought and attitudes. Currently, the field's prevailing theoretical perspectives are the traditional schema view and embodied cognition theories. Despite important differences, these perspectives share the seemingly uncontroversial notion that people interpret and evaluate a given social stimulus using knowledge about similar stimuli. However, research in cognitive linguistics (e.g., Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) suggests that people construe the world in large part through conceptual metaphors, which enable them to understand abstract concepts using knowledge of superficially dissimilar, typically more concrete concepts. Drawing on these perspectives, we propose that social cognition can and should be enriched by an explicit recognition that conceptual metaphor is a unique cognitive mechanism that shapes social thought and attitudes. To advance this metaphor-enriched perspective, we introduce the metaphoric transfer strategy as a means of empirically assessing whether metaphors influence social information processing in ways that are distinct from the operation of schemas alone. We then distinguish conceptual metaphor from embodied simulation—the mechanism posited by embodied cognition theories—and introduce the alternate source strategy as a means of empirically teasing apart these mechanisms. Throughout, we buttress our claims with empirical evidence of the influence of metaphors on a wide range of social psychological phenomena. We outline directions for future research on the strength and direction of metaphor use in social information processing. Finally, we mention specific benefits of a metaphor-enriched perspective for integrating and generating social cognitive research and for bridging social cognition with neighboring fields."
Landau, Mark J., Brian P. Meier and Lucas A. Keefer (2010): A Metaphor-Enriched Social Cognition. In: Psychological Bulletin 136 (6): 1045-1067.

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