Developmental Studies of Perception and Metaphor: The Twain Shall Meet METAPHOR AND SYMBOLIC ACTIVITY 2(1), 53-71 Copyright © 1987, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Developmental Studies of Perception and Metaphor: The Twain Shall Meet

Cathy H. Dent

University of North Carolina

A model is presented to guide investigation of the developmental relationships among different verbal and nonverbal abilities related to metaphor. It specifies the nonverbal context supporting children's use of metaphors and also details what type of nonverbal information children are likely to detect and talk about figuratively. A general statement of theoretical orientation, characteristics of metaphor and related abilities, and the development of metaphor abilities are discussed, focusing on children's understanding of naturally occurring kinds and their detection of similarity across kinds (metaphoric similarity). The theoretical and empirical implications of the model are considered, along with developmental studies based on the model. These show that the nature of the perceptual information available influences the likelihood of children's detecting the similarity of objects different in kind, as well as the likelihood and form of figurative descriptions. In addition, it has been shown that perceptual experience influences the recall of related metaphors when the visual information for metaphoric similarity is no longer present.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Cathy H. Dent, Department of Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056.

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