Cultural and Individual Differences in Metaphorical Representations of Time

Heng, Li (2018) Cultural and Individual Differences in Metaphorical Representations of Time. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

Abstract concepts cannot be directly perceived through senses. How do people represent abstract concepts in their minds? According to the Conceptual Metaphor Theory, people tend to rely on concrete experiences to understand abstract concepts. For instance, cognitive science has shown that time is a metaphorically constituted conception, understood relative to concepts like space. Across many languages, the “past” is associated with the “back” and the “future” is associated with the “front”. However, space-time mappings in people’s spoken metaphors are not always consistent with the implicit mental metaphors they are using to conceptualize time in their minds, suggesting a dissociation between temporal language and temporal thought. Beyond the influences of language, the Temporal Focus Hypothesis proposes that people’s spatial conceptions of time are shaped by their attentional focus on temporal events. In general, people conceptualize the past as being in front to the extent that their culture is past-oriented, and the future as being in front to the extent that their culture is future-oriented. Recent lines of research have provided preliminary evidence that people’s implicit space-time mappings are malleable and likely result from multiple factors related to temporal focus, ranging from those relating to contextual features, such as cultural attitudes toward time, to those more tightly tied to the individual, such as age-related differences. By building upon and extending these findings, the overall aim of this thesis is to ascertain the generalizability of the Temporal Focus Hypothesis and further investigate the range of factors that may influence people’s spatializations of time, focusing specifically on previously unexplored within-cultural differences (Study 1), political ideology (Study 2), religion (Studies 3-6), real life experiences (Studies 7 to 9), pregnancy (Study 10), temporal landmarks (Studies 11 to 13), circadian rhythms and chronotype (Studies 14 to 16), and personality (Studies 17 to 19). Together, these studies demonstrate that people’s implicit space-time mappings may vary according to their temporal focus, which can be explained by the Temporal Focus Hypothesis. The findings of these studies also shed new light on the Temporal Focus Hypothesis by extending the range of factors that may influence people’s conceptions of time, and reveal the malleability and flexibility of time representations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Q100 Linguistics
V500 Philosophy
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 11:15
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2019 08:33
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39472

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