Metaphorical framing in political discourse through words vs. concepts: A meta-analysis

Britta C. Brugman*, Christian Burgers, Barbara Vis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Conceptual metaphor theory and other important theories in metaphor research are often experimentally tested by studying the effects of metaphorical frames on individuals' reasoning. Metaphorical frames can be identified by at least two levels of analysis: words vs. concepts. Previous overviews of metaphorical-framing effects have mostly focused on metaphorical framing through words (metaphorical-words frames) rather than through concepts (metaphorical-concepts frames). This means that these overviews included only experimental studies that looked at variations in individual words instead of at the broader logic of messages. For this reason, we conducted a meta-analysis (k = 91, N = 34,783) to compare the persuasive impact of both types of metaphorical frames. Given that patterns of metaphor usage differ across discourse domains, and that effects may differ across modalities and discourse domains, we focused on one mode of presentation and one discourse domain only: verbal metaphorical framing in political discourse. Results showed that, compared to non-metaphorical frames, both metaphorical-words and metaphorical-concepts frames positively influenced beliefs and attitudes. Yet, these effects were larger for metaphorical-concepts frames. We therefore argue that future research should more explicitly describe and justify which level of analysis is chosen to examine the nature and effects of metaphorical framing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-65
Number of pages25
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date25 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • metaphor
  • framing
  • meta-analysis
  • political persuasion


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