When do metaphors appeal to emotion and when do they appeal to logic? Evaluating the influence of metaphor on political issues

Kathleen Ahrens, Christian Burgers

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Metaphors have been argued to engage emotion over reason (Otis, 2019) or vice versa (Hoeken et al., 2009), but as Charteris-Black (2004) argues in his analysis of metaphor functions, it may be that both are facilitated. However, to date there have been no studies examining if and when people rate conceptual metaphors as appealing more to logic or emotion when making an argument. Following research on FIRE metaphors by Charteris-Black (2017), as well as research examining if metaphors influence reasoning (Brugman, Burgers & Vis, 2019; Hart, 2018; Reijnierse et al., 2015; Steen et al., 2014; Thibodeau and Boroditsky 2011, 2013), we test if arguments for UN intervention in a foreign conflict are considered ‘logical’ or ‘emotional’ based on metaphor novelty. In turn, we examine whether such differences in perceived ‘logicality’ or ‘emotionality’ of metaphorical frames impact participants’ evaluation of the political topic. Using online ratings decision task, we design and run an experiment in English for 300 US- based participants on MTurk where a passage arguing for UN intervention is provided containing either novel metaphors, conventional metaphors, or a literal control condition. Participants are asked to rate their level of agreement with intervention along with how logical or emotional they view the argument to be, with political preference measured as a control variable. We also include a question in which we ask participants (after exposure) about their evaluation of the political topic. We will statistically test if participants rate novel and conventional metaphors as more emotional or logical than their matched literal counterparts. Subsequently, we test if and how differences in these responses affect participants’ evaluation of the political topic. Our results should reveal whether differences in perceived logicality or emotionality of metaphorical frames will lead to metaphorical framing effects.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusNot published / presented only - Jun 2020
Eventthe 13th conference of the Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor - the 13th conference of the Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor, Hamar, Norway
Duration: 18 Jul 201921 Jul 2020


Conferencethe 13th conference of the Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor

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