The aesthetic paradox in processing conventional and non-conventional metaphors
A reaction time study
This study focuses on the relationship between cognitive effort and aesthetic-emotional evaluation in the processing of conventional and non-conventional metaphors. We postulate that an increased cognitive load — which is normally perceived as stressful — is evaluated positively when processing non-conventional metaphors. We have called this contradictory suspense ‘aesthetic paradox’. The aesthetic paradox was tested in two studies that differed in degree of processing demand. In study 1 (low processing demand) participants (N = 40) read (non-)conventional metaphors, judged the adequacy of two metaphor paraphrases and assessed their own interpretation process. In study 2 (high processing demand) the same procedure was applied with the exception that participants (N = 40) evaluated the appropriateness of one metaphor paraphrase. The results of both experiments confirm that non-conventional metaphors require longer reading and longer processing times than conventional metaphors, and they confirm the postulated paradoxical effect: the increase of cognitive effort in processing non-conventional metaphors is evaluated positively, provided that a satisfactory interpretation is found.
Keywords: (non-)conventional metaphors, aesthetic paradox, aesthetic evaluation, cognitive effort, metaphor processing, aesthetic reception attitude
Published online: 10 January 2012
Cited by 5 other publications
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