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  • 1.
    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.

  • 2.
    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. 

  • 3.
    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.

  • 4.
    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.

  • 5.
    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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