Automatic Scoring of Metaphor Creativity with Large Language Models

Paul V. DiStefano, John D. Patterson, Roger E. Beaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Metaphor is crucial in human cognition and creativity, facilitating abstract thinking, analogical reasoning, and idea generation. Typically, human raters manually score the originality of responses to creative thinking tasks–a laborious and error-prone process. Previous research sought to remedy these risks by scoring creativity tasks automatically using semantic distance and large language models (LLMs). Here, we extend research on automatic creativity scoring to metaphor generation–the ability to creatively describe episodes and concepts using nonliteral language. Metaphor is arguably more abstract and naturalistic than prior targets of automated creativity assessment. We collected 4,589 responses from 1,546 participants to various metaphor prompts and corresponding human creativity ratings. We fine-tuned two open-source LLMs (RoBERTa and GPT-2)–effectively “teaching” them to score metaphors like humans–before testing their ability to accurately assess the creativity of new metaphors. Results showed both models reliably predicted new human creativity ratings (RoBERTa r =.72, GPT-2 r =.70), significantly more strongly than semantic distance (r =.42). Importantly, the fine-tuned models generalized accurately to metaphor prompts they had not been trained on (RoBERTa r =.68, GPT-2 r =.63). We provide open access to the fine-tuned models, allowing researchers to assess metaphor creativity in a reproducible and timely manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCreativity Research Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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