Processing Emergent Features in Metaphor Comprehension

Abstract

This study examines the processing of emergent features in metaphors. Emergent features are metaphoric interpretations that are characteristic neither of the target nor the vehicle. In the first experiment, participants were asked to respond as to whether a verbal feature is an appropriate interpretation of the metaphor, which was presented as a prime. They are asked to respond immediately after a tone is presented which has a variable temporal lag after the feature. The timing of each tone controlled the participants' response times. The results show that the response deadline given to the participants only slightly affected their judgments. In a second experiment, the time to interpret a metaphor was controlled by varying the presentation time of the metaphor. The results showed that emergent features require more time for recognition as a metaphoric interpretation than do non-emergent features. The results support the hypothesis that interaction among features causes feature emergence.


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