Publication details [#9865]

Seitz, Jay A. 1997. Metaphor, symbolic play, and logical thought in early childhood. Journal of Language and Politics 123 (4) : 373–391. 19 pp. URL
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Development of the ability to understand different kinds of metaphor was examined in terms of (1) symbolic vs. constructive-object play, (2) preoperational vs. concrete-operational level (Piaget, J., 1962), and (3) pictures vs. words. Subjects (Ssj N = 120 middle-class, multiethnic native English speaking children in New York City, aged 4 and 6) were presented with metaphorical relationships based on color, shape, and physiognomic, cross-modal, psychological-physical, and taxonomic matches in both pictures and words. Each S was asked to match a target item with a literal and nonliteral item on the basis of whether it was "like" the target item and to explain why he or she thought so. It was found that constructive-object play, not symbolic play, aided the understanding of perceptual and taxonomic metaphor and that younger children did significantly better in the pictorial medium, whereas older children did better with words. A relationship between operativity and metaphoric understanding observed in N previous studies could not be replicated. (LLBA 1999, vol. 33, n. 4)