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  • 1.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    et al.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia.
    Metaphor comprehension: A critical review of theories and evidence2018In: Psychological bulletin, ISSN 0033-2909, E-ISSN 1939-1455, Vol. 144, no 6, p. 641-671Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We review psychological research bearing on major theories of metaphor comprehension. A broad survey of behavioral studies is coupled with findings from recent meta-analyses of neuroimaging studies of metaphor processing. We identify three broad theoretical positions that have been the foci of research efforts: analogy, categorization, and conceptual mapping. The first two of these emphasize relatively well-specified information-processing models; the third links metaphor comprehension to embodied cognition. Our review evaluates the evidence that has been taken as support for each view, and then critically examines studies that bear on competing hypotheses derived from opposing theories. Finally, we discuss issues that future research on metaphor should address. In particular, we call for greater consideration of the pragmatic functions of metaphor in context, of its emotional impact, and of its links to literary interpretation. We suggest ways in which mechanisms based on analogy and conceptual combination might be integrated to create a richer conception of metaphor understanding.

  • 2.
    Ichien, Nicholas
    et al.
    University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, English language.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Interpretation of novel literary metaphors by humans and GPT-42024In: Proceedings of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society / [ed] L. K. Samuelson; S. L. Frank; M. Toneva; A. Mackey; E. Hazeltine, University of California , 2024, p. 4014-4020Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Despite the exceptional performance of large language models (LLMs) on a wide range of tasks involving natural language processing and reasoning, there has been sharp disagreement as to whether their abilities extend to more creative human abilities. A core example is the interpretation of novel metaphors. Given the enormous and non-curated text corpora used to train LLMs, a serious obstacle to designing tests is the need to obtain novel yet high-quality metaphors that are unlikely to have been included in the training data. Here we assessed the ability of GPT-4, a state-of-the-art large language model, to provide natural-language interpretations of novel literary metaphors drawn from Serbian poetry and translated into English. Human judges—blind to the fact that an AI model was involved—rated metaphor interpretations generated by GPT-4 as superior to those provided by a group of college students. In interpreting reversed metaphors, GPT-4, as well as humans, exhibited signs of sensitivity to the Gricean cooperative principle. These results indicate that LLMs such as GPT-4 have acquired an emergent ability to interpret literary metaphors.

  • 3.
    Ichien, Nicholas
    et al.
    University of Pennsylvania, USA.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, English language.
    Whatley, Mary C.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Castel, Alan D.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Advancing with age: Older adults excel in comprehension of novel metaphors.2024In: Psychology and Aging, ISSN 0882-7974, E-ISSN 1939-1498Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Older adults may experience certain forms of cognitive decline, but some forms of semantic memory remain intact in older age. To address how metaphor comprehension changes with age and whether metaphor comprehension relies more heavily on analogical reasoning (supported by fluid intelligence) or on conceptual combination (supported by crystalized intelligence), we compared performance of younger and older adults. In two experiments, healthy older adults (54-88 years) scored lower on a measure of fluid intelligence (Ravens Progressive Matrices) but higher on a measure of crystalized intelligence (Mill Hill Vocabulary Test) relative to younger adults (18-34 years). Groups were equally successful in comprehending relatively easy metaphors (Study 1), but older adults showed a striking advantage over younger adults for novel literary metaphors (Study 2). Mixed-effects modeling showed that measures of fluid and crystalized intelligence each made separable contributions to metaphor comprehension for both groups, but older adults relied more on crystalized intelligence than did younger adults. These age-related dissociations clarify cognitive effects of aging and highlight the importance of crystalized intelligence for metaphor comprehension in both younger and older adults. 

  • 4.
    Morsanyi, Kinga
    et al.
    University of Loughborough, UK; Queen’s University Belfast, UK.
    Hamilton, Jayne
    Queen’s University Belfast, UK.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Linking metaphor comprehension with analogical reasoning: Evidence from typical development and autism spectrum disorder2022In: British Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0007-1269, E-ISSN 2044-8295, Vol. 113, no 2, p. 479-495Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We examined the relationship between metaphor comprehension and verbal analogical reasoning in young adults who were either typically developing (TD) or diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ASD sample was highly educated and high in verbal ability, and closely matched to a subset of TD participants on age, gender, educational background, and verbal ability. Additional TD participants with a broader range of abilities were also tested. Each participant solved sets of verbal analogies and metaphors in verification formats, allowing measurement of both accuracy and reaction times. Measures of individual differences in vocabulary, verbal working memory, and autistic traits were also obtained. Accuracy for both the verbal analogy and the metaphor task was very similar across the ASD and matched TD groups. However, reaction times on both tasks were longer for the ASD group. Additionally, stronger correlations between verbal analogical reasoning and working memory capacity in the ASD group indicated that processing verbal analogies was more effortful for them. In the case of both groups, accuracy on the metaphor and analogy tasks was correlated. A mediation analysis revealed that after controlling for working memory capacity, the inter-task correlation could be accounted for by the mediating variable of vocabulary knowledge, suggesting that the primary common mechanisms linking the two tasks involve language skills.

  • 5.
    Morsanyi, Kinga
    et al.
    Queen’s University Belfast, UK; University of Loughborough, UK.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Analogical reasoning in autism: A systematic review and meta-analysis2019In: Thinking, Reasoning, and Decision Making in Autism / [ed] Kinga Morsanyi; Ruth M.J. Byrne, London: Routledge, 2019, p. 59-87Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter provides a brief overview of analogical reasoning, first in the typically developing population and then in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) population. Many studies of analogical reasoning have used variations of a mapping task, which requires the participant to identify correspondences between specific objects in the source and target. Instructions sometimes specify that a relational match is to be sought, but may instead leave the match criterion relatively vague. The chapter presents a systematic review of empirical investigations of analogical reasoning in autism, including studies that assessed performance on J. C. Raven’s matrices. The spared analogical abilities observed in ASD also suggest refinements in models of autistic functioning. On the face of it, solving problems of the type exemplified by Raven’s matrices requires attention to visuospatial relations between geometrical forms and also requires integration of constraints provided by multiple relations.

  • 6.
    Morsanyi, Kinga
    et al.
    Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom; Loughborough University, UK.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Metaphor processing in autism: A systematic review and meta-analysis2020In: Developmental Review, ISSN 0273-2297, E-ISSN 1090-2406, Vol. 57, article id 100925Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Impairments related to figurative language understanding have been considered to be one of the diagnostic and defining features of autism. Metaphor comprehension and production in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as compared to typically developing (TD) individuals have been investigated for around thirty years, generally showing an overall advantage for TD groups. We present a preregistered systematic review and meta-analysis including a total of 15 studies that fulfilled our set of inclusion criteria (notably, ASD and TD groups matched in chronological age and verbal- or full-scale IQ). Along with accuracy, we also analyzed group differences in reaction time in the studies that reported them. The results revealed a medium-to-large group difference favoring TD over ASD groups based on accuracy measures, as well as a similar overall advantage for TD groups based on reaction times. There was reliable heterogeneity in effect sizes for group differences in accuracy, which was mostly explained by the effect of verbal intelligence, with differences in metaphor processing being smaller for participants with better verbal skills. Some of the variation in effect sizes may also be attributed to differences in types of metaphor processing tasks. We also evaluated the quality of the studies included in the meta-analysis, and the evidence relating to the potential presence of publication bias.

  • 7.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    et al.
    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Individual differences in both fluid and crystalized intelligence predict metaphor comprehension2018In: Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society / [ed] Charles Kalish; Martina Rau; Jerry Zhu; Timothy T. Rogers, Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society , 2018, p. 2542-2547Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The nature of the mental processes involved in metaphor comprehension has been the focus of debate. Research related to this debate has mainly examined the comprehension of simple nominal metaphors. Here we take an individual-differences approach to examine the comprehension of slightly more complex metaphors, some taken from literary sources, using two types of comprehension tests (selecting an overall interpretation or else selecting a completion). In a series of metaphorcomprehension experiments with college students, we measured both fluid intelligence (using the non-verbal Raven’s Progressive Matrices test) and crystalized verbal intelligence (using a new Semantic Similarities Test). Each measure had a dissociable predictive relationship to metaphor comprehension, at least for those of the more complex literary variety. The pattern of individual differences suggests that metaphor comprehension broadly depends on both crystalized and fluid intelligence, with the latter less important for relatively simple metaphors.

  • 8.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    et al.
    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia.
    Ichien, Nicholas
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Individual differences in comprehension of contextualized metaphors2020In: Metaphor and Symbol, ISSN 1092-6488, E-ISSN 1532-7868, Vol. 35, no 4, p. 285-301Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We report a study examining the role of linguistic context in modulating the influences of individual differences in fluid and crystalized intelligence on comprehension of literary metaphors. Three conditions were compared: no context, metaphor-congruent context, and literal-congruent context. Relative to the baseline no-context condition, the metaphor-congruent context facilitated comprehension of the metaphorical meaning whereas the literal-congruent context impaired it. Measures of fluid and crystalized intelligence both made separable contributions to predicting metaphor comprehension. The metaphor-congruent context selectively increased the contribution of crystalized verbal intelligence. These findings support the hypothesis that a supportive linguistic context encourages use of semantic integration in interpreting metaphors.

  • 9.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    et al.
    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia.
    Ichien, Nicholas
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Metaphor comprehension: An individual-differences approach2019In: Journal of memory and language (Print), ISSN 0749-596X, E-ISSN 1096-0821, Vol. 105, p. 108-118Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The nature of the mental processes involved in metaphor comprehension has been the focus of debate, with controversy focusing on the relative role of general analogical reasoning versus language-specific conceptual combination. In the present set of studies, we take an individual-differences approach to examine the comprehension of a variety of metaphors, some taken from literary sources, using several types of comprehension tests. In a series of metaphor-comprehension studies with college students, we measured both fluid intelligence (using the nonverbal Raven’s Progressive Matrices test) and crystalized verbal intelligence (using a new Semantic Similarities Test as well as the Vocabulary subscale of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale). Previous work has shown that measures of fluid intelligence are closely linked to individual differences in analogical reasoning, whereas measures of crystalized verbal intelligence are linked to language-specific abilities. We found that each measure had a dissociable predictive relationship to metaphor comprehension. The pattern of individual differences indicated that crystalized intelligence influences metaphor comprehension across a broad range of metaphor types, whereas individual differences in fluid intelligence mainly impact comprehension of more cognitively complex metaphors, such as those that arise in literary sources.

  • 10.
    Stamenković, Dušan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, English language.
    Milenković, Katarina
    University of Niš, Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, Serbia.
    Ichien, Nicholas
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Holyoak, Keith J.
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
    An individual-differences approach to poetic metaphor: Impact of aptness and familiarity2023In: Metaphor and Symbol, ISSN 1092-6488, E-ISSN 1532-7868, Vol. 38, no 2, p. 149-161Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Using poetic metaphors in the Serbian language, we identified systematic variations in the impact of fluid and crystalized intelligence on comprehension of metaphors that varied in rated aptness and familiarity. Overall, comprehension scores were higher for metaphors that were high rather than low in aptness, and high rather than low in familiarity. A measure of crystalized intelligence was a robust predictor of comprehension across the full range of metaphors, but especially for those that were either relatively unfamiliar or more apt. In contrast, individual differences associated with fluid intelligence were clearly found only for metaphors that were low in aptness. Superior verbal knowledge appears to be particularly important when trying to find meaning in novel metaphorical expressions, and also when exploring the rich interpretive potential of apt metaphors. The broad role of crystalized intelligence in metaphor comprehension is consistent with the view that metaphors are largely understood using semantic integration processes continuous with those that operate in understanding literal language.

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