Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 249–265 | Cite as

Some cognitive aspects of figurative language: Association and metaphor

  • Michael G. Johnson
  • Robert G. Malgady


This study was designed to explore the relationship between some predictions generated by a cognitive-feature model of association and metaphor understanding. Several kinds of data were collected from University of Tennessee undergraduates on the two key nouns in each of 28 randomly selected metaphors—both in and out of metaphor context—as well as judged goodness and ease of writing interpretations for the metaphors themselves. Interword similarity, free association variability, and characteristics of common property distributions for key-noun pairs were highly intercorrelated (as predicted by the associative model) and also related to metaphor goodness and difficulty of metaphor interpretation (canonical r=0.78). These results provide indirect support for the associative model and also provide some insight into the cognitive processes underlying metaphor understanding.


Cognitive Psychology Cognitive Process Common Property Property Distribution Cognitive Aspect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael G. Johnson
    • 1
  • Robert G. Malgady
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of TennesseeKnoxville

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