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Mem Cognit. 2001 Jul;29(5):730-5.

Analogy use in naturalistic settings: the influence of audience, emotion, and goals.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of London, Birbeck College, United Kingdom.


The ways in which analogy was used in a nonexperimental environment-politics-was investigated. We used the framework developed in analogy research to analyze the selection of analogical sources in political discourse. We took all the analogies reported in newspapers during the final week of a referendum campaign in Canada and analyzed the features of the different analogies used. We identified 234 analogies and analyzed the range over which analogies were used, semantic categories of analogies, goals of the analogizer, and emotional connotation of the analogies. Our results reveal that analogy was frequently used, that over two-thirds of the analogical sources were nonpolitical, and that many of the sources had strong emotional connotations. Furthermore, the goal of the analogizer influenced the selection of sources. We conclude that characteristics of the audience and emotionality of the source analog are important features in the selection of source analogs.

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