The most metaphorical man in the world?

Barack Obama

A new cognitive science website called The Psych Report features a Q&A with Oberlin College Psychology Professor Paul Thibodeau, who analyzes the metaphors used by Barack Obama during his recent State of the Union address (as well as the metaphors used by Catchy McMorris Rodgers as she delivered the Republican response).

Among the interesting notes:

  • Obama frames inequality using metaphors suggesting verticality (e.g. climbing a ladder) while  Rodgers used horizontal images (closing a gap).
  • Obama talks repeatedly about systems (the healthcare system, the immigration system) which might make these already difficult problems seem hopelessly intractable.
  • Obama’s frequent use of the word “deepen” is potentially a very powerful word that speaks to a lack of progress and a slight sense of foreboding about the future.