Metaphorical descriptions of wrongdoers

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What is a metaphoric picture of an evil person made of? In a study devoted to the development of the ability to use metaphorical descriptions of humans, the semantic fields of four target metaphors - Human-Swamp, Human-Snake, Human-Knife, and Human-Nettle - were established and compared. Subjects (365 young adults) were asked to decipher the metaphors’ meanings. The results were obtained mainly by qualitative analysis, with frequency analysis of clusters containing synonymous meanings. The results indicate that when creating imaginary characteristics of evil people, young adults seem to be more concerned about the possibility of suffering verbal harassment (most commonly: vulgarity, mockery, gossip, jeering) than the threat of actual physical assault. The results may prove useful for developmental comparisons.

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