Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Looking at metaphors: a picture-word priming task as a test for the existence of conceptual metaphor

Javier Valenzuela, Cristina Soriano


Since 1987 a number of scholars have investigated the conceptualization of anger in several linguistic studies (Lakoff & Koveckes 1987, King, 1989, Matsuki, 1995). In their research, a body of conceptual metaphors have been identified that are supposed to structure the way we think about the emotion. In this paper, we evaluate the claim that conceptual metaphors are stable structures in the speakers’ minds (Murphy 1996; Lakoff & Kövecses 1980; Glucksberg & McGlone 1999).
The present experiment was designed to investigate the use of conceptual metaphors by speakers of peninsular Spanish in relation to the emotion concept ANGER. The study evaluates the claim that conceptual metaphors are stable and automatic cross-domain conceptual projections in the speaker’s minds (Lakoff, 1993: 227-228, 245). Specifically, we examine the participation of domains like HOT FLUID or PRESSURIZED CONTAINER in the processing of anger expressions. Our specific goal is to study whether the activation of such source domains facilitates the recognition of anger words in a categorization task. In order to test this, a priming experiment was conducted in which subjects had to perform a categorization task after being exposed to an image. When the image was related to the source domain of an angerrelated conceptual metaphor (Lakoff & Kövecses, 1987, Soriano, 2005), the emotion was more easily identified in the subsequent task than it was after an unrelated image.

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