Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia
The cognitive processing of metaphor creation has been insufficiently investigated. Creating metaphors requires the ability to work in a fantastic, impossible context, using symbolic and associative means to express oneís thoughts. It has been shown recently that intelligence plays an important role in the creation of metaphors, but it is not the main factor in determining their success. The present research explores the roles of conceptual abilities, categorical abilities, and flexibility (as the factor creativity) in metaphor creation. Participants (n = 38 young adults) were asked to come up with names for three photos, without any special instruction to create metaphors. To classify conceptual abilities we used ìConceptual Synthesisî (M. A. Kholodnaya, 2012); to measure categorical ability we used the subtest ìSimilaritiesî (D. Wechsler, 1955); to identify the role of creativity in the metaphor process we used the test of ìUnusual Usesî (J. P. Guilford, 1960). The creation of complex metaphorical names was associated with a tendency to create highly organized mental structures and to retain them within the general semantic context (r = 0.344, p < 0.05). The tendency to create single-level situational connections was associated with a tendency to give specific names to photos (r = 0.475, p < 0.01). Photographic images proved out to be fruitful stimuli to investigate the processing of visual information. We developed a preliminary classification of names: 1) concrete; 2) situational; 3) abstract; 4) metaphorical (M1 and M2). We identified two types of metaphorical names — perceptual and complex metaphors — that relate to conceptual abilities in different ways. It is inaccurate to speak about a general concept of ìmetaphorical abilitiesî; we should differentiate the psychological mechanisms that lie at their base.
Keywords: naming, denotation, metaphor creation, conceptual abilities, categorical abilities, flexibility