Publication details [#11167]

Waggoner, John E., David S. Palermo and Steven J. Kirsh. 1997. Bouncing bubbles can pop: Contextual sensitivity in children's metaphor comprehension. Metaphor and Symbol 12 (4) : 217–229. 13 pp.


This study investigated the extent to which children's metaphor comprehension was affected by context. Seventy-two participants at each of four age levels (first, third, and fifth grades and college) interpreted 12 metaphors embedded in story contexts that primed an emotional meaning consistent, inconsistent, or neutral with regard to the emotional meaning of the metaphor. Although the college students performed better than the children in some respects, even the youngest children demonstrated an ability to adjust their metaphorical interpretations to reflect contextual influence. These findings suggest that children as young as 6 years of age exhibit skill with metaphor. (John Waggoner, David Palermo, and Steven Kirsh)