Modes of Metaphor and Me: The Role Shyness Plays in the Interpretation of Visual and Verbal Metaphors

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  • This thesis examines whether or not one's level of shyness affects one's interpretation of visual and verbal metaphors. Current research demonstrates that shyness correlates positively with more negative interpretations of counterfactual irony and that personality traits are related to certain themes in metaphor production. However, there is a lack of research in regards to how personality influences visual and verbal metaphor interpretation. The current task required participants to paraphrase the interpreted meaning of a collection of visual and verbal metaphors and rate each item on a Likert scale in terms of its familiarity, enjoyment, and polarity. Half of the interpretation task had an image of a face (male or female) presented alongside the metaphors to mimic a human observer. Lastly, participants read a series of statements from a shyness scale, rating each item on how much it applied to them. The study had three main hypotheses: high-shy individuals would interpret metaphors as more negative; high-shy individuals would interpret the metaphors with the observant face next to them as more negative; visual metaphors would gather more extreme responses on emotional ratings. The analysis did not support these hypotheses. No significant correlation was found between one's level of shyness and the rating scale responses. Additionally, no significant finding was found regarding the presence or absence of the observant face. Verbal metaphors received higher ratings on all three rating scales and produced higher polarity ratings for positive metaphors compared to those in the visual modality. Findings suggest that shyness does not have an overt effect on metaphor interpretation and that metaphors in the verbal modality are strongly preferred over those in the verbal modality. The study aims to contribute to our understanding of our personality's role in interpreting language in multiple modalities.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International