Affective and psycholinguistic norms for German conceptual metaphors (COMETA)

Citron, Francesca M.M. and Lee, Mollie and Michaelis, Nora (2020) Affective and psycholinguistic norms for German conceptual metaphors (COMETA). Behavior Research Methods, 52. pp. 1056-1072. ISSN 1554-351X

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Figurative expressions have been shown to play a special role in evoking affective responses, as compared to their literal counterparts. This study provides the first database of conceptual metaphors that includes ratings of affective properties beyond psycholinguistic properties. To allow for the investigation of natural reading processes, 64 natural stories were created, half of which contained two or three conceptual metaphors that relied on the same mapping, whereas the other half contained the metaphors’ literal counterparts. To allow for tighter control and manipulation of the different properties, 120 isolated sentences were also created, half of which contained one metaphorical word, which was replaced by its literal rendering in the other half. All stimuli were rated for emotional valence, arousal, imageability, and metaphoricity, and the pairs of metaphorical and literal stimuli were rated for their similarity in meaning. A measure of complexity was determined and computed. The stories were also rated for naturalness and understandability, and the sentences for familiarity. Differences between the metaphorical and literal stimuli and relationships between the affective and psycholinguistic variables were explored and are discussed in light of extant empirical research. In a nutshell, the metaphorical stimuli were rated as being higher in emotional arousal and easier to imagine than their literal counterparts, thus confirming a role of metaphor in evoking emotion and in activating sensorimotor representations. Affective variables showed the typical U-shaped relationship consistently found in word databases, whereby increasingly positive and negative valence is associated with higher arousal. Finally, interesting differences between the stories and sentences were observed.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Behavior Research Methods
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Deposited On:
28 Aug 2019 11:05
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 02:39