Metaphor and Intra-Attitudinal Structural Coherence

By Sopory, Pradeep | Communication Studies, April-June 2008 | Go to article overview

Metaphor and Intra-Attitudinal Structural Coherence


Sopory, Pradeep, Communication Studies


Metaphor has a long history of study as a rhetorical tool. Derived from the Greek words, "meta" meaning "over" and "pherein" meaning "to carry," a metaphor is traditionally considered a linguistic expression of the form "A is B" consisting of two parts A and B, such that the comparison results in aspects that normally apply to B being transferred or "carried over" to A. For example, the metaphoric expression "Your bicycle helmet is your security blanket for the road" consists of two parts bicycle helmet (A) and security blanket (B), such that there is a comparison between A and B and properties associated with security blanket are transferred to bicycle helmet. The two terms A and B are seen as representing different concepts or conceptual domains and referred to respectively as target and base (Gentner, 1982).

Use of novel metaphors for persuasion has been studied in diverse discourse areas such as politics (Read, Cesa, Jones, & Collins, 1990), advertising (Hitchon, 1991; Nelson & Hitchon, 1999), and social issues (Whaley, 1991). However, the results of the empirical investigations have been mixed. Some studies (e.g., Bowers & Osborn, 1966; Hitchon, 1991) have found that use of metaphors in a message leads to more attitude change in the desired direction whereas other studies (Whaley, 1991, Study 2) have found the opposite. An answer to the question of whether metaphors really are more effective language devices than literal equivalents was provided by a meta-analysis of empirical investigations of metaphor and persuasion (Sopory & Dillard, 2002a). The results showed that metaphor-using messages did lead to a small yet significant increase in attitude change over literal messages (effect size r = .06).

The meta-analysis also tested different explanations of metaphor's persuasive advantage over literal language. The results, in combination with evidence from other relevant research (see Sopory & Dillard, 2002b), provided support for the superior organization view (Read et al., 1990). According to this view, metaphor is more effective in organizing the arguments of a persuasive message compared to literal language. A metaphor induces a greater number of semantic associations, such that the different arguments in a persuasive message get connected together more effectively as a coherent whole. This coherent organization promotes attitude change in the desired direction. On the other hand, a literal message lacks this ability and so is not as persuasive. The present study further develops this line of thinking and investigates a possible mechanism underlying the coherence.

A Structural Explanation of Metaphor's Persuasive Effects

The account developed here proposes that a novel persuasive metaphor leads to enhanced coherence of the three types of information mobilized for attitude judgments. The coherent information available postcomprehension of a metaphor-based message (as compared to literal-language-only message) exhibits greater intra-attitudinal structural coherence that makes it more likely that receivers show enhanced attitude change in the desired direction. (1) Using the conceptual metaphor theory of metaphor comprehension (Johnson, 1987; Lakoff, 1987; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), the claim is that the more coherent information results because the structure inherent in conceptual metaphors provides a priori constraint on comprehension of the correspondences between the A and B terms of a linguistic metaphor. That is, it is the emergent structural match between the linguistic and the conceptual metaphor that produces a highly coherent set of information. This view is elaborated below to generate four hypotheses.

Intra-Attitudinal Structural Coherence

Attitudes embody evaluations of attitude objects, which can be based on three sources of information: (a) cognitions (i.e., beliefs), (b) affect, and (c) physical/ motor behavior (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Zanna & Rempel, 1988). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Metaphor and Intra-Attitudinal Structural Coherence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.