The effects of emotional valence on hemispheric processing of metaphoric word pairs

Nira Mashal, Oksana Itkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent theories of metaphor comprehension discuss the cognitive substrates involved in processing metaphors. However, the role of valence perception during metaphor comprehension has received little attention. The present study aims to examine the effect of emotional valence on metaphor processing, as well as the interaction between this effect and hemispheric differences. Metaphoric, literal, and meaningless word pairs were presented to 43 participants who performed a semantic judgment task. Results showed that processing of metaphors with negative valence was faster when done in the right hemisphere as compared with the left hemisphere. These findings indicate that emotional valence interacts with cognitive processes of metaphor comprehension. We discuss valence with respect to the class inclusion model and the fine versus coarse semantic coding model of metaphor processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-521
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Divided visual field
  • Emotion lateralization
  • Hemispheric asymmetry
  • Metaphors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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