[PS-2.19] Depth of Processing Influences the Roles of Linguistic Association and Ease of Simulation in Metaphor Comprehension

Liu, P. , Connell, L. & Lynott, D.

Department of Psychology, Lancaster University

What makes a metaphor easy to comprehend? Linguistic theories often suggest that it relies on how often the words co-occur (linguistic association). However, theories of embodied cognition suggest that language processing is also influenced by how easy it is to simulate the meaning. Few studies have looked at the interplay of both factors on metaphor processing. Therefore, this study hypothesised the effects of these factors differ depending on the depth of processing required. Specifically, we expected association frequency to affect shallow processing more than deep, because it can act as a heuristic for whether a metaphor is likely to have a coherent meaning. Thus, we required participants to either make sensibility judgements on some metaphors (shallow processing), or generate an interpretation for them (deep processing). Results show that easy simulation increases the likelihood and the speed of accepting a metaphor, and also reduces the speed of rejection at all depths of processing. While association frequency has the same effect on the likelihood of acceptance, it affects the speed of reaction only in shallow processing when people reject a metaphor. Overall, these results support that both linguistic association and simulation factors contributes to language processing according to targeted depth of processing.