Publication details [#11387]

Wilson, Nicole L. and Raymond W., Jr. Gibbs. 2007. Brief reports: Real and imagined body movement primes metaphor comprehension. Cognitive Science 31 (4) : 721–731. 11 pp.


We demonstrate in two experiments that real and imagined body movements appropriate to metaphorical phrases facilitate people's immediate comprehension of these phrases. Participants first learned to make different body movements given specific cues. In two reading time studies, people were faster to understand a metaphorical phrase, such as push the argument, when they had previously just made an appropriate body action (e.g., a push movement) (Experiment 1), or imagined making a specific body movement (Experiment 2), than when they first made a mismatching body action (e.g., a chewing movement) or no movement. These findings support the idea that appropriate body action, or even imagined action, enhances people's embodied, metaphorical construal of abstract concepts that are referred to in metaphorical phrases. (Nicole Wilson and Raymond Gibbs Jr.)