The top trumps of time: Factors motivating the resolution of temporal ambiguity

Sarah Duffy, Vyvyan Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


What factors motivate our understanding of metaphoric statements about time? English exhibits two deictic space–time metaphors: the Moving Ego metaphor conceptualizes the ego as moving forward through time, while the Moving Time metaphor conceptualizes time as moving forward towards the ego (Clark, 1973). In addition to earlier research investigating spatial influences on temporal reasoning (e.g., Boroditsky & Ramscar, 2002), recent lines of research have provided evidence that a complex of factors, such as personality differences, event valence, lifestyle, and emotional experiences, may also influence people’s perspectives on the movement of events in time – providing new insights on metaphor and its ability to reflect thought and feeling (e.g., Duffy & Feist, 2014; Duffy, Feist, & McCarthy, 2014; Margolies & Crawford, 2008; Richmond, Wilson, & Zinken, 2012). Probing these findings further, two studies were conducted to investigate whether the interpretation of a temporally ambiguous question may arise from an interaction between the valence of the event and aspects of the personality (Experiment 1) and lifestyle (Experiment 2) of the comprehender. The findings we report on shed further light on the complex nature of temporal reasoning. While this involves conceptual metaphor, it also invokes more complex temporal frames of reference (t-FoRs) (Evans, 2013), which are only partially subserved by space-to-time conceptual metaphors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-315
Number of pages23
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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