Thinking out of the box: Production of direct metaphor in a social-media context

Romy van den Heerik*, Ellen Droog, Melanie Jong Tjien Fa, Christian Burgers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Metaphor production is a creative process of thinking out of the box, which can be of great communicative value to language users. In this study, we explored how metaphor production can be stimulated by different types of cues in an Internet environment. Participants (N = 318) were invited to co-create a metaphorical campaign slogan in a social-media setting with randomly selected sets of real campaign slogans. We measured how linguistic (metaphor markers) and social-media cues (likes) prompt direct metaphor. Results show that the metaphor marker ‘so’ stimulated metaphor production. Likes for previously posted metaphorical slogans did not affect the creation of a metaphor. We found a correlation between the actual and self-perceived creativity of the co-created slogans. Besides, the co-created metaphors both echoed and deviated from previously posted campaign slogans, leading to different degrees of creativity. Co-creation in a social-media setting seems a fruitful environment for metaphor production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-94
Number of pages31
JournalInternet Pragmatics
Issue number1
Early online date23 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Social media
  • Co-creation
  • Metaphor
  • Creativity
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


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