Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Albert Katz


The present research examined the effects of reading metaphor on judgments of distance between people. In two experiments, we found that reading metaphor induced participants to perceive pairs of models shown in pictures as physically farther apart compared to reading either literal language, or nothing aside from instructions. A third experiment ruled out that this effect was due to participants feeling closer themselves to the models and a fourth experiment ruled out that this effect was related to perceived social distance. Construal level theory posits that there are multiple dimensions of psychological distance and that these dimensions are cognitively related. We propose that semantic distance might be another cognitively related dimension of psychological distance. Reading metaphor may highlight semantic distance as metaphor is a comparison of two unlike things. We suggest that the participants who read metaphor might have projected this semantic distance onto their spatial distance judgments.