ERIC Number: EJ1041663
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 55
The Role of Working Memory and Divided Attention in Metaphor Interpretation
Iskandar, Sam; Baird, Anne D.
Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, v43 n5 p555-568 Oct 2014
Although several types of figurative language exist, neuropsychological tests of non-literal language have focused on proverbs. Metaphors in the form X is (a) Y (e.g., "The body's immunological response is a battle against disease.") place a lower demand on language skills and are more easily manipulated for novelty than proverbs. Forty healthy participants completed the Metaphor Interpretation Test (developed by the authors). The task includes 20 items chosen from a list of metaphors that were rated on several scales (e.g. imagery, aptness) in a study by Katz et al. ("Metaphor Symb Act" 3(4):191-214, 1988). Participants were asked to rate the familiarity and provide an explanation of each metaphor. A scoring system was developed to categorize answers into: abstract complete (AC), abstract partial (AP), concrete (CT), and other/unrelated (OT) types. Participants also completed short-term memory and divided attention tests. Overall, participants produced 56 % AC, 25.38% AP, 7.88% CT, and 10.88% OT responses. It was found that a measure of verbal short-term memory span was the best predictor of performance on this task (adjusted R[superscript 2] = 0.369) ). It appears that short-term memory span, not working memory or divided attention, contributes most to providing abstract responses in explaining metaphors. This is in line with the idea that when one accesses the semantic network associated with a novel metaphor, one must hold this information in mind long enough to search for and link similar cognitive networks.
Descriptors: Figurative Language, Familiarity, Scoring, Classification, Attention, Short Term Memory, Verbal Communication, Predictor Variables, Responses, Semantics, Novelty (Stimulus Dimension), Interpretive Skills, Data Interpretation
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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