Metaphorical Accounting: How Framing the Federal Budget Like a Household's Affects Voting Intentions
Political discourse is saturated with metaphor, but evidence for the persuasive power of this language has been hard to come by. We addressed this issue by investigating whether voting intentions were affected by implicit mappings suggested by a metaphorically framed message, drawing on a real-world example of political rhetoric about the federal budget. In the first experiment, the federal budget was framed as similar to or different from a household budget, though the information participants received was identical in both conditions. When the federal budget was described as similar to a household's, people considered the personal finances of a presidential candidate more relevant—a finding we replicated in a larger, pre-registered study. In a follow-up experiment, we presented participants with a more explicit rhetorical argument and found a similar effect, moderated by political affiliation. These studies illuminate how metaphorical comparison affects cognition for important real-world issues, sometimes in unintended ways.
Thibodeau, Paul H., and Stephen J. Flusberg. 2017. "Metaphorical Accounting: How Framing the Federal Budget Like a Household's Affects Voting Intentions." Cognitive Science 41(55): 1168-1182.
Special Issue: Reasoning and Inference
Framing, Metaphor, Political psychology, Reasoning, Voting