The Double Framing Effect of Emotive Metaphors in Argumentation

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021)
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In argumentation, metaphors are often considered as ambiguous or deceptive uses of language leading to fallacies of reasoning. However, they can also provide useful insights into creative argumentation, leading to genuinely new knowledge. Metaphors entail a framing effect that implicitly provides a specific perspective to interpret the world, guiding reasoning and evaluation of arguments. In the same vein, emotions could be in sharp contrast with proper reasoning, but they can also be cognitive processes of affective framing, influencing our reasoning and behavior in different meaningful ways. Thus, a double (metaphorical and affective) framing effect might influence argumentation in the case of emotive metaphors, such as “Poverty is a disease” or “Your boss is a dictator,” where specific “emotive words” (disease, dictator) are used as vehicles. We present and discuss the results of two experimental studies designed to explore the role of emotive metaphors in argumentation. The studies investigated whether and to what extent the detection of a fallacious argument is influenced by the presence of a conventional vs. novel emotive metaphor. Participants evaluated a series of verbal arguments containing either “non-emotive” or “emotive” (positive or negative) metaphors as middle terms that “bridge” the premises of the argument. The results show that the affective coherence of the metaphor's vehicle and topic plays a crucial role in participants' reasoning style, leading to global heuristic vs. local analytical interpretive processes in the interplay of the metaphorical and the affective framing effects.



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Francesca Ervas
Universita di Cagliari

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