Effects of familiarity and aptness on metaphor processing.

Dawn Blasko, C. M. Connine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A cross-modal priming paradigm was used to examine the comprehension of metaphors varying in familiarity and aptness. In Experiments 1 and 2 high-familiar metaphors showed availability of the figurative meaning, but low-familiar (LF) metaphors did not. In Experiment 3, only LF metaphors that had been rated highly apt showed evidence of figurative activation. Experiment 4 showed evidence of figurative activation for most LF and moderate-apt metaphors. The locus of activation was investigated in Experiment 5 in which the individual words of the metaphor (topic and vehicle) served as primes. Neither topic nor vehicle showed evidence of priming the metaphor target, suggesting that activation of the metaphorical target in Experiments 1-4 was not caused by lexical activation of the words within the metaphors, but rather was due to activation of emergent properties of the metaphorical phrase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-308
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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