How viruses and beasts affect our opinions (or not): The role of extendedness in metaphorical framing

W.G. Reijnierse, C.F. Burgers, T. Krennmayr, G.J. Steen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Based on the assumption that extended metaphor may constitute a case of deliberate metaphor and therefore has the potential to influence people's opinions, this paper investigates whether extending a metaphorical frame in a text leads people to perceive policy measures that are in line with that frame as more effective for solving a crime problem than other policy measures. The metaphorical frames 'Crime is a virus' and 'Crime is a beast' were extended in one experiment each via a series of additional conventional metaphorical expressions having crime as the target domain and beasts/viruses as the source domain. Participants (N = 354, Experiment 1; N = 361, Experiment 2) were randomly assigned to one of five experimental conditions with increasing numbers of sentences containing metaphorical expressions, and rated the effectiveness of a set of policy measures to solve the crime problem described in the text. The data yield limited support for our hypothesis. When controlling for political affiliation, the ratings for frameconsistent measures trended in the hypothesised direction in Experiment 2. Experiment 1 yielded a trend for frame-inconsistent measures. These results suggest that metaphorical framing effects may be more subtle than has been assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-263
JournalMetaphor and the Social World
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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