Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Five studies evaluated the claim (Reichman and Coste, 1980) that a dual coding approach to language representation cannot explain interpretation of figurative language. That claim was based on earlier findings that were interpreted as showing that memory representations of the figurative meanings of proverbs are abstract and imagery-free.;Study 1 used a rating task to measure figurativeness of 240 proverbs that varied in rated imagery. As proverbs became increasingly abstract, they were rated as increasingly literal in the relation between surface wording and inferred intended meaning. The dual coding explanation is that concrete language has associated non-verbal representations which are necessary to provide a basis for non-conventionalized figurative interpretations.;A dual coding analysis of figurative language predicted differences in interpretation processes for concrete and abstract proverbs. Study 2 showed, in support, that rated comprehension ease and verbal interpretation ease were more highly correlated for abstract proverbs ("Punishment is lame but it comes") than for concrete proverbs ("A little pot is soon hot").;Study 3 evaluated concrete-abstract differences in the relation between proverbs and their interpretations by (1) measuring the frequency with which the topic of the proverb was also the topic of its interpretation and (2) by having judges sort proverb interpretations into groups based on similarity of ideas. Results confirmed that the topic of the interpretation of an abstract proverb was more often the same topic named in the proverb than occurred for interpretations of concrete proverbs. In addition, abstract proverbs tended to be interpreted more similarly across individuals than were concrete proverbs. These results were interpreted as showing that the contribution of literal associative processes to proverb interpretation is greater in the case of abstract than concrete proverbs.;Studies 4 and 5 examined cued recall for concrete and abstract proverbs and showed that replication of previous failures to find concrete/abstract differences in cued recall of proverbs depends on who generates the interpretation recall cue. When recall cues were self-generated interpretations of the proverbs, recall of concrete proverbs was superior as predicted by dual coding.;The results taken together favor a model based on the dual coding distinction between imaginal and verbal interpretive processes in figurative language comprehension.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.