Metaphorically speaking: the role of cognitive abilities in the production of figurative language

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Roger E. Beaty (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Paul Silvia

Abstract: Figurative language is one of the most common expressions of creative behavior in everyday life. However, the cognitive mechanisms behind figures of speech such as metaphor remain largely unexplained. Recent evidence suggests fluid and executive abilities are important to the generation of conventional and creative metaphors. The present study investigated whether several factors of the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) model of intelligence contribute to generating these different types of metaphors. Specifically, the roles of fluid intelligence (Gf), crystallized knowledge (Gc), and general retrieval ability (Gr) were explored. Participants completed a series of intelligence tests and were asked to produce conventional and creative metaphors. Structural equation modeling was used to assess the contribution of the different factors of intelligence to metaphor production. Model results for creative metaphor showed large effects of Gf (β = .45) and Gr (β = .52), whereas Gc had a moderate effect on conventional metaphor production (β = .30). The present research extends the traditional study of divergent thinking to an area important to everyday communication, and advances a testable framework of creative cognition based on the CHC model of intelligence.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Cattell-Horn-Carroll, Creativity, Intelligence, Metaphor Production, Property Attribution Model
Psycholinguistics $x Ability testing
Figures of speech
Metaphor $x Psychological aspects

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