Extended Metaphors are the Home Runs of Persuasion: Don’t Fumble the Phrase
Metaphors pervade discussions of critical issues and influence how people reason about these domains. For instance, when crime is a beast people are more likely to suggest enforcement-oriented approaches to crime-reduction (e.g., by augmenting the police force); reading that crime is a virus, on the other hand, leads people to suggest systemic reforms for the affected community. In the current study, we find that extending metaphoric language into the descriptions of policy interventions bolstered the persuasive influence of metaphoric frames for important issues. That is, in response to a crime virus people were even more likely to endorse social reforms that were described as “treatments,” while in response to a crime beast people were even more likely to endorse “attacking” the problem with harsh enforcement tactics. Of note, people were not simply drawn to extensions of previously instantiated metaphors: when extended metaphors were paired with a conceptually incongruent policy intervention (e.g., “treating” a crime [virus] by augmenting the police force), we found no preference for the policy response.
Thibodeau, Paul H. 2016. "Extended Metaphors are the Home Runs of Persuasion: Don’t Fumble the Phrase." Metaphor and Symbol 31(2): 53-72.
Taylor & Francis
Metaphor and Symbol