Metaphors Affect Reasoning: Measuring Effects of Metaphor in a Dynamic Opinion Landscape


Metaphors pervade discussions of critical issues, making up as much as 10-20% of natural discourse. Recent work has suggested that these conventional and systematic metaphors influence the way people reason about the issues they describe. For instance, Thibodeau & Boroditsky (2011, 2013) found that people were more likely to want to fight back against a crime beast by increasing the police force but more likely to want to diagnose and treat a crime virus through social reform. Here, we report two norming studies and two experiments that reveal a shift in the overall landscape of opinion on the topic of crime. Importantly, we find that the metaphors continue to have an influence on people’s reasoning about crime. Our results and analyses highlight the importance of up-to-date opinion norms and carefully controlled materials in metaphor research.

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