The aim of the dissertation was to investigate the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT, Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999).The CMT proposes that abstract concepts are partly structured by concrete concepts through the mechanism of metaphorical mapping. In Chapter 2 we wanted to investigate the role of the vehicle (concrete concept) in the comprehension process of the topic(abstract concept) in a metaphorical sentence, but we found mixed results. In Chapter 3 to Chapter 6 we investigated the role of concrete concepts during conceptual tasks about abstract concepts. Chapter 3 shows that participants’ performance over a similarity decision task (similar or dissimilar colours) was influenced by the distance of presentation (near or far) in congruence with the conceptual metaphor (similar is near and dissimilar is far). Chapter 4 shows that participants’ performance over a categorization task (same category vs. different category) on pictures (animals or vehicles) was influenced by the position of a frame (both pictures in or one out of the frame) in congruence with the conceptual metaphor (same category is in container and different category is out of container). Chapter 5 showed evidence that situational quantity (e.g., 5 bananas) was partly represented by verticality (more is up and less is down) but simple numbers (e.g., 5) not. Chapter 6 could not show evidence that love is partly represented by warmth or closeness. In conclusion, the studies in this thesis partly support the CMT.

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Neherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
R.A. Zwaan (Rolf)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Psychology

Boot, I. (2010, September 9). Metaphors in Abstract Thought. Retrieved from