Publication details [#9682]

Schecter, Barbara and John Broughton. 1991. Developmental relationships between psychological metaphors and concepts of life and consciousness. Bakhtiniana: Revista de Estudos do Discurso 6 (2) : 119–143. 25 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language


This study relates children's explications of psychological metaphors to their concepts of life and consciousness. Psychological metaphors refer to descriptions of people, such as "hard" and "soft" or "hard-headed" and "soft-hearted." The perspective guiding this study is that both specific content knowledge of relevant conceptual domains and metalinguistic ability are components of an explication of these types of metaphors. Semistructured interviews were developed to tap children's understanding in these domains. These interviews were administered to 35 children, with 7 children in each of five groups: 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 14-year-olds. In addition, a longitudinal study of 13 children from similar age ranges was conducted over a 3-year period using the same instruments. Levels of development were identified for metaphor, concepts of life, and consciousness. Developments in the three domains were found to occur together. Children at lower levels in one domain tended to be at lower levels in the other domains. Possible interpretations for these findings are discussed in terms of the relationship between conceptual development and metalinguistic activity. (Barbara Schecter)