Metaphor-enriched social cognition and spatial bias in the courtroom

Bodo Winter, Joshua Daguna, Teenie Matlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
487 Downloads (Pure)


It is known that courtroom decisions can be influenced by subtle psychological biases, such as asking leading questions. Informed by metaphor research on the connection between spatial proximity and intimacy (e.g., ‘we are close’, ‘their views are far apart’), this paper reports four experiments that look at the potential role of psychological biases arising from the spatial layout of a courtroom. In particular, we ask the question: Does being close or far to a defendant influence one’s reasoning about who is likely to win or lose a court case? Working with an American (jury-based) legal system as an example, our experiments manipulated the physical distance between the jury box and the defendant’s table as shown on images of a courtroom. Across several manipulations, we discovered that participants judged the defendant to be more likely to win when the defendant’s table was located close to the jury box. These studies are in line with the research on “metaphor-enriched social cognition”, showing that the way we talk about relationships in terms of space corresponds to social reasoning in a spatial world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-99
Number of pages28
JournalMetaphor and the Social World
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2018


  • metaphor
  • social cognition
  • social distance
  • psychological distance
  • relationships
  • law system
  • law
  • courtroom
  • jury


Dive into the research topics of 'Metaphor-enriched social cognition and spatial bias in the courtroom'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this