Psycholinguistic approaches to figuration

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Figurative language provides a testing bed for language processing in general, since it requires speakers to utilize a sophisticated range of linguistic, pragmatic and cognitive skills to derive an appropriate interpretation. The toolkit of psycholinguistics, where precise measurements of behavioural responses help to build a model of underlying cognitive processes, can enrich our understanding of this complex topic. Two techniques that have been fruitfully applied to the study of figurative language are cross-modal priming and eye-tracking. Drawing on a range of example studies from the literature, this chapter will demonstrate how figurative language research can benefit from the application of psycholinguistic techniques. It concludes with a consideration of how experimental results can be interpreted against existing theories and models.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFigurative Language – Intersubjectivity and Usage
EditorsAugusto Soares da Silva
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9789027260031
ISBN (Print)9789027208552
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2021

Publication series

NameFigurative Thought and Language


  • Psycholinguistics
  • experimental methods
  • reaction times
  • cross-modal priming
  • eye-tracking
  • visual world paradigm
  • figurative language
  • idioms
  • metaphors
  • metonymy


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