British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 4 (November 1987), Pages 299-394

The development of comprehension of physiognomic metaphor in photographs (pages 321-331)

The study examined child and adult responses to physiognomically suggestive visual metaphor in photographs. Preschoolers, 3 and 4 years of age, normal and high IQ schoolchildren, 6 and 8 years of age, and adults were shown 10 photographs and their responses categorized by type of metaphor (based on physiognomic characteristics, physical similarity, orientation; and gestural/facial, intertextual and allegorization responses). Preschool and 6‐year‐old children demonstrated significant levels of physiognomic responding, although high IQ, older children and adults showed even higher levels of response. All groups displayed high consistency in physiognomic object responses and were equally good in categorizing a photograph using orientational metaphors as bases. Explanations given indicated that the youngest children used self‐referential metaphors exclusively, older children used perceptual and action‐based metaphors as well, and adults added context‐independent metaphors.

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