Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Buchanan, Lori


Categorization, Comparison, Concreteness, Metaphor Processing, Semantic Richness



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Metaphors can be processed as comparisons or categorizations (Gibbs & Colston, 2012). The quality of metaphor hypothesis suggests that inapt metaphors are processed as comparisons and apt metaphors are processed categorizations (Glucksberg & Haught, 2006). In two experiments, novel metaphors were manipulated on semantic neighbourhood density (SND) and topic concreteness and presented to participants at two reading deadlines that are believed to characterize symmetric (e.g. comparison) and directional (e.g. categorization) processing stages (e.g., Wolff & Gentner, 2011). Participants rated the comprehensibility of metaphors. The results suggest that low SND metaphors are processed as categorizations whereas high SND metaphors are processed as comparisons. In the case of metaphors made up of high SND, an abstract topic is more favourable for categorization than a concrete topic. A new model is proposed to explain how semantic characteristics affect comparison and categorization processes.