Metaphor Framing in Multiple Communication Modalities

AbstractMetaphors can shape how people reason about complex issues, but most studies of metaphor framing rely exclusively on written materials. This is a significant limitation, as people regularly encounter linguistic metaphors in a variety of different communicative settings (e.g., read in the newspaper, heard on the radio, or viewed on television). Because research finds that variations in communication modality can influence message comprehension, retention, and persuasiveness, we explored the relative power of metaphor framing in different communication modalities. Across two experiments, participants read, heard, or watched a person describe four different metaphorically framed issues. They had to answer a target question about each issue by selecting from two response options, one of which was congruent with the metaphor frame. Results revealed a significant, similarly-sized effect of metaphor framing in every communication modality, suggesting that communication modality does not moderate the efficacy of metaphor framing.

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