The emotional impact of visual metaphor

There is much empirical evidence to suggest that metaphor directly impacts the response of audiences, but this evidence pertains mainly to verbal or written communication. From my initial searches there seems to be little in the way of comparative studies into the emotional impact of visual metaphor. I have therefore come up with the idea to conduct an experiment in order to test the hypothesis that a visual metaphor can have a direct response to peoples opinion on the subject of lies and specifically the treatment of liars.

I plan to create 2 artworks both containing the word liar but the image used will be different on each, for example one will depict a person masked, the second someone being stabbed in the back. The thinking behind this is that the former will invoke feelings of concealment and the latter feelings of betrayal. Participants will be shown either poster A or poster B and after a set time period asked to answer 2 questions. The first question will be: In your opinion how should liars be treated?

  • a. Exposed publicly
  • b. Disciplined
  • c. Other (please specify)

Participants will be required to choose 1 option only.

The second question will be: From the list below please choose all emotional responses you felt after viewing the poster. Tick all that apply

  • Uncomfortable
  • Disturbed
  • Angry
  • Saddened
  • Regretful
  • Tense
  • Insecure
  • Enraged
  • Ashamed
  • Regretful
  • Other (please specify)

I would expect the participants who saw the masked image to feel discomfort and perhaps regret and the participants viewing the stabbing in the back to be angered and tense.

I propose to study an audience fitting to my major study TA and question at least 50 people, potentially more.

I’m so exited about this idea but frustrated that I didn’t think of it sooner! I could conduct my entire journal article around this idea but now I don’t have time to change my plans for the video presentation. It seems this will have to take on a side role to the main event. Potentially this could be a second journal article at a later date or be the introduction to my book of lies. Either way the information gleaned from this study will no doubt support my major study and subsequent creative practice.



The emotional impact of visual metaphor

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