"Undoing" a Rhetorical Metaphor: Testing the Metaphor Extension Strategy
Political metaphors do more than punch up messages; they can systematically bias observers' attitudes toward the issue at hand. What, then, is an effective strategy for counteracting a metaphor's influence? One could ignore or criticize the metaphor, emphasizing strong counterarguments directly pertaining to the target issue. Yet if observers rely on it to understand a complicated issue, they may be reluctant to abandon it. In this case, a metaphor extension strategy may be effective: Encourage observers to retain the metaphor but reinterpret its meaning by considering other, less obvious implications. The current studies support this claim. Under conditions where participants gained a strong (versus weak) epistemic benefit from a rhetorical metaphor, they were more persuaded by a rebuttal that extended (versus ignored or criticized) that metaphor. The studies use converging operational definitions of epistemic benefit and offer insight into how political attitudes are made and unmade.
Metaphor and Symbol
Landau, M. J.,
Keefer, L. A.,
Swanson, T. J.
(2017). "Undoing" a Rhetorical Metaphor: Testing the Metaphor Extension Strategy. Metaphor and Symbol, 32(2), 63-83.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/17792