Publication details [#14153]

Thibodeau, Paul H., Anna Winneg, Cynthia Frantz and Stephen J. Flusberg. 2015. The mind is an ecosystem: Systemic metaphors promote systems thinking. Metaphor and the Social World 6 (2) : 177–204. 28 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: John Benjamins


The present study introduces a novel method to identify systemic relational metaphors that highlight the complex causal structure of a target domain. The paper reports two experiments, both very thoroughly described, on systemic metaphors. Results from Experiment 1 suggest that metaphors can be quantified in terms of the degree to which they highlight systems: participants wrote longer and more intricate descriptions in response to systemic metaphors, they explicitly rated these metaphors as more systemic, and they viewed systemic metaphors as more complex. Experiment 2 builds from results of Experiment 1 and suggests that system metaphors induce holistic and relational thinking. Results are carefully presented, accurately analyzed and persuasively put in a larger state-of-the-art literature.