An Empirical Study on the Role of Perceptual Similarity in Visual Metaphors and Creativity

Metaphor and Symbol 28 (4):233 - 253 (2013)
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We investigate the role of perceptual similarity in visual metaphor comprehension process. In visual metaphors, perceptual features of the source and the target are objectively present as images. Moreover, to determine perceptual similarity, we use an image-based search system that computes similarity based on low-level perceptual features. We hypothesize that perceptual similarity at the level of color, shape, texture, orientation, and the like, between the source and the target image facilitates metaphorical comprehension and aids creative interpretation. We present three experiments, two of which are eye-movement studies, to demonstrate that in the interpretation and generation of visual metaphors, perceptual similarity between the two images is recognized at a subconscious level, and facilitates the search for creative conceptual associations in terms of emergent features. We argue that the capacity to recognize perceptual similarity—considered to be a hallmark of creativity—plays a major role in the creative understanding of metaphors.



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Author Profiles

Bipin Indurkhya
Jagiellonian University
Amitash Ojha
International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (Alumnus)