Beyond Threat and Defense in the Science of Meaning
Saturday, May 26, 2012,
1:00 PM - 2:20 PM
Chair: Laura A. King University of Missouri, Columbia
More Than Words: Metaphorical Thought in Social Life Mark J. Landau University of Kansas Metaphor, traditionally viewed as a superfluous linguistic ornament, is in fact a cognitive tool used to understand an abstract concept in terms of a dissimilar, more concrete concept. This talk presents an overview of research exploring metaphor’s role in social perceptions, attitudes, and behavior. Avenues for future research are discussed.
Measuring and Inducing Gut Feelings in Intuitive Judgments Sascha Topolinski Universität Würzburg, Germany The underlying cognitive and affective mechanisms driving intuitive judgments of coherence and artificial grammar learning (processing fluency and resulting affect) are investigated. By measuring and experimentally manipulating these operating mechanisms, one can influence, switch off, and even reverse intuitions without participants' awareness.
From What Might Have Been to What Must Have Been: Counterfactual Thinking Creates Meaning Laura Kray University of California, Berkeley Four experiments explored whether two uniquely human characteristics -—counterfactual thinking (imagining alternatives to the past) and the fundamental drive to create meaning in life -—are causally related. Rather than implying a random quality to life, the authors hypothesized and found that counterfactual thinking heightens the meaningfulness of key life experiences. Reflecting on alternative pathways to pivotal turning points even produced greater meaning than directly reflecting on the meaning of the event itself. Fate perceptions ('it was meant to be') and benefit-finding (recognition of positive consequences) were identified as independent causal links between counterfactual thinking and the construction of meaning. Through counterfactual reflection, the upsides to reality are identified, a belief in fate emerges, and ultimately more meaning is derived from important life events.