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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Metaphor and analogy in everyday problem solving

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Early accounts of problem solving focused on the ways people represent information directly related to target problems and possible solutions. Subsequent theory and research point to the role of peripheral influences such as heuristics and bodily states. We discuss how metaphor and analogy similarly influence stages of everyday problem solving: Both processes mentally map features of a target problem onto the structure of a relatively more familiar concept. When individuals apply this structure, they use a well‐known concept as a framework for reasoning about real world problems and candidate solutions. Early studies found that analogy use helped people gain insight into novel problems. More recent research on metaphor goes further to show that activating mappings has subtle, sometimes surprising effects on judgment and reasoning in everyday problem solving. These findings highlight situations in which mappings can help or hinder efforts to solve problems. WIREs Cogn Sci 2016, 7:394‐405. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1407 This article is categorized under: Psychology > Language Psychology > Reasoning and Decision Making

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