The Role of Cultural Artifacts in the Interpretation of Metaphorical Expressions About Time

  • Duffy S
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Across cultures, people employ space to construct representations of time. English exhibits two deictic space–time metaphors: the “moving ego” metaphor conceptualizes the ego as moving forward through time and the “moving time” metaphor conceptualizes time as moving forward towards the ego. Earlier research investigating the psychological reality of these metaphors has shown that engaging in certain types of spatial-motion thinking may influence how people reason about events in time. More recently, research has shown that people’s interactions with cultural artifacts may also influence their representations of time. Extending research on space–time mappings in new directions, three experiments investigated the role of cultural artifacts, namely calendars and clocks, in the interpretation of metaphorical expressions about time. Taken together, the results provide initial evidence that, in their interpretation of ambiguous metaphorical expressions about time, people automatically access and use spatial representations of absolute time, whereby moving forward in space corresponds with moving later in time. Moreover, asking participants to use a reverse space–time mapping causes interference, which is reflected through their temporal reasoning.

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  • Sarah E. Duffy

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