Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Interplay of "Big Five" Personality Factors and Metaphorical Schemas: A Pilot Study with 20 Lung Transplant Recipients

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Interplay of "Big Five" Personality Factors and Metaphorical Schemas: A Pilot Study with 20 Lung Transplant Recipients

Article excerpt

The aim of the present study was to investigate the interplay between personality factors and metaphorical schemas. The "Big Five" personality factors of 20 patients after lung transplantation were examined with the NEO-FFI. Patients were questioned about their social network, and self- and body-image. The interviews were assessed with metaphor analysis. Significant positive correlations were found between "extraversion" and metaphors for acoustics, play/sport and economy, furthermore between "openness to experience" and metaphors for acoustics, container, battle, illness. A positive correlation was also found between "openness to experience" and metaphor frequency. Significant negative correlations were found between "conscientiousness" and metaphors for illness. The results indicate that personality factors may correspond with certain implicit metaphorical schemas. Key Words: Personality, Big Five, Cognitive Schemas, Metaphor, and Lung Transplantation

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In cognitive behaviour therapy, personality is conceptualized as a relatively stable cognitive organization of schemas, composed of different cognitive, affective, motivational, and instrumental "schemas" (Beck, Freeman, & Davis, 2004). These mental structures are hypothesized to stimulate selective processing of information. Some cognitive schemas concern self-evaluation, others the evaluation of the social environment. Personality disorders are characterized by an implicit information processing bias or, generally spoken, by maladaptive cognitive schemas (Dreesen, Arntz, Hendriks, Keune, & van den Hout, 1999). If for example a patient, who by nature is predisposed to overreact to rejection actually experiences rejection as a child, the cognitive schema or belief "I am unlovable" can be formed. With recurring experiences of rejection, the maladaptive belief "I am unlovable" becomes structuralized and influences psychological information processing later on.

In the past 25 years, there has been a growing interest in research on implicit concepts or schemas of metaphorical nature. It is hypothesized that information processing as well as behaviour may be influenced by metaphorical schemas or concepts, based on cognitive processes described in cognitive personality theory (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Moser, 2000). The use of metaphors is a powerful cognitive tool to relate abstract and complex knowledge to concrete experiences. Metaphors are assumed not only to have representational functions, but to provide also the basis for understanding, decision-making, and action (Dutke, 1994, Vosniadou & Ortony, 1989). As shown in the experiments of Gentner and Gentner (1983), for example, if people understand the functioning of an electric light switch in terms of an analogy to the water cycle, they see electrical current as functionally equivalent to water pressure, the battery as a water tank, and the light switch as a kind of valve that is used to interrupt the flow of water. This metaphorical model of electricity enables them to understand the abstract phenomenon of "electric current." It also provides a useful basis for problem solving, such as for repairing a non-functioning light switch (Gentner & Gentner, 1983). Although the water metaphor is not correct in technical terms, the functional analogy of electric current and water cycle is sufficient for a "naive" understanding of the abstract concept of electricity and for everyday problem-solving skills.

In cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology, a metaphor is defined as an analogy (Anderson, 1996; Lakoff, 1987; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). A metaphor consists of the projection of one schema (the source domain of the metaphor) onto another schema (the target domain of the metaphor). The schema of the metaphor source domain, for example "path," has a typical topology consisting of a limited number of slots, such as starting point, final point, and direction in the case of a "path. …

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