Metaphor and Memory: How Metaphors Instantiate Schemas in and Influence Memory of Narrative


Metaphoric frames are prominently featured in public discourse. They highlight certain aspects of the target issues they are used to describe, thereby encouraging specific patterns of inference. Our goal was to test whether they would influence memory as well. Building off prior work, we contrasted two metaphors for crime: virus and beast. In a pilot study, we identified specific causes, examples, and solutions to crime that were congruent with each frame (one but not the other; e.g., people thought “drug use” better exemplified a crime virus, whereas “murder” better exemplified a crime beast). Participants (n = 469) read or listened to a short metaphorically-framed crime report, completed a filler task, and were prompted for the information they had seen/heard. Results indicated the virus metaphor facilitated memory, overall, but not the specific frame-congruent information, suggesting a more general influence of the frame than predicted.

Back to Table of Contents