Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Michael W. O'Boyle


In a previous study conducted by Camac and Glucksberg (1984) it was reported that components drawn from apt metaphors do not show the same lexical priming effects as semantically associated pairs. Specifically, they found that in a standard lexical decision task, semantically associated pairs were responded to more quickly than randomly paired words, while pairs drawn from apt metaphors showed no reaction time difference over randomly paired words. This finding led them to conclude that metaphors do not rely on preexisting associations for comprehension, rather, metaphor processing creates new but temporary associations. The present study consisted of three experiments designed to demonstrate the replicability of Camac and Glucksberg's findings and to test the notion that metaphor processing results in the formation of new associations. Experiment 1 was essentially a replication of Camac and Glucksberg's work, and produced effects identical to those described above. Experiment 2 controlled for the mean printed frequency of the metaphor and associate pairs, a factor which was not held constant in the Camac and Glucksberg experiment. Experiment 2 produced essentially the same pattern of results as those found in Experiment 1 and the original Camac and Glucksberg study, which indicate that a difference in printed frequency is not the cause of the observed effects. Experiment 3 required subjects to make lexical decisions for word pairs immediately following contextual paragraphs designed to bias subjects towards metaphorical or literal interpretation. It was hypothesized that if the processing of a metaphor causes the temporary formation of new associations, lexical decisions should occur more quickly for pairs following a metaphorical context than those following a literal context. The results for Experiment 3 only partially supported this hypothesis. The findings of all three experiments are interpreted in the context of spreading activation and parallel distributed processing theories;Reference. Camac, M. K., and Glucksberg, S. (1984). Metaphors do not use associations between concepts, they are used to create them. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 13, 443-455.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

James Alvin Hubbell



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

90 pages