1st Edition

Conceptual Metaphor in Social Psychology The Poetics of Everyday Life

By Mark J. Landau Copyright 2017
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    We learn in grade school that metaphor is an ornamental figure of speech reserved for poets. But we now know that it is also a key strategy people use to make sense of the world, from basic concepts like time and causation to the major social issues facing society. In this book, Mark Landau clarifies with wide-ranging evidence the many ways conceptual metaphor guides our thoughts and actions, shining a light on the cognitive underpinnings of social life.

    Conceptual Metaphor in Social Psychology synthesizes over twenty-five years of in-depth research. Drawing from innovative experiments conducted around the globe, Landau shows conclusively that individuals and groups use metaphor—often unconsciously—to grasp abstractions, make judgments and decisions, communicate, and organize their behavior. Each chapter explores metaphor’s importance for understanding a major topic in social psychology: social cognition, motivation, culture, the self, interpersonal relationships, intergroup dynamics, politics, and health. What emerges is a powerful explanation of how social behavior is shaped by and reflected in our bodily functioning, cultural context, and language use.

    Integrating insights from cognitive linguistics, anthropology, and personality, this book makes a compelling case that conceptual metaphor has a pervasive effect on human affairs. Researchers in social psychology will discover new ways to think about and investigate these related topics, while students of psychology will learn about an exciting development in understanding enduring questions about who we are and how we got that way.

    1. Jaynes’s Challenge. 2. Social Psychology Meets Conceptual Metaphor. 3. Metaphor in Meaning Making. 4. Motivation as Context. 5. The Cultural Context: Universality and Variations. 6. The Self. 7. Interpersonal Relationships. 8. Intergroup Relations. 9. Political and Health Discourse.


    Mark J. Landau is associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, where he studies the influence of metaphor on social thought and behavior. He has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.

    In this amazing volume, Mark Landau reveals to the reader the pervasive impact that metaphorical thinking has on diverse facets of social cognition and action. Carefully researched and brilliantly argued, it is a landmark work that affords novel insights into people’s morality, creativity and humor. A truly important contribution, and fun to read to boot!

    -Arie W. Kruglanski, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland 

    Mark Landau is one of the most interesting, creative thinkers in contemporary psychology.  Start with a fascinating topic, mix in important insights, stir in a generous helping of the latest experimental research, add a pinch of humor and leaven it with Landau’s writing—and that’s a recipe for an appetizing book.

    -Dov Cohen, Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Metaphors guide how we think about every aspect of our lives, from our past and future to our social relationships and personal health. This book offers a masterful review of what has been learned, written by one of the leading scholars in the field.

    -Norbert Schwarz, Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing, University of Southern California

    Conceptual Metaphor in Social Psychology is an intellectual tour de force. Drawing on insights from many disciplines, Mark Landau, an eminent psychologist, illustrates the powerful force that metaphor has on human psychology from the intrapersonal to the interpersonal to the intergroup level of analysis. Far from a being a mere linguistic device, Landau illustrates the incredible potential that conceptual metaphor has for integrating the science and practice of social psychology. This book is a must for anyone interested in understanding human behavior. 

    -Michele J. Gelfand, Professor and Distinguished University Scholar Teacher, University of Maryland