Metaphor & Emotion: Metaphorical Frames for Coping with Hardship


Do metaphors shape people’s emotional states and mindsets for dealing with hardship? Natural language metaphors may act as frames that encourage people to reappraise an emotional situation, changing the way they respond to it. Recovery from cancer is one type of adversity that many people face, and it can be mediated by the mindset people adopt. We investigate whether two common metaphors for describing a cancer experience – the battle and the journey – encourage people to make different inferences about the patient’s emotional state. After being exposed to the battle metaphor participants inferred that the patient would feel more guilt if he didn’t recover, while after being exposed to the journey metaphor participants felt that he had a better chance of making peace with his situation. We discuss implications of this work for investigations of metaphor and emotion, mindsets, and recovery.

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