General Statement of Research Interests
In what ways is knowledge of metaphor useful in better understanding what
people are talking or writing about, and specifically in understanding and resolving conflict, mediating
disputes, or negotiating differences? Because we want to know not just
what people say, but how they think, and because metaphor is central to thinking, we
may certainly expect that knowledge of metaphor will be useful and perhaps found
Can we define conflict in metaphor terms? Are certain metaphors
more conducive to discovering new alternatives? When two people use the
same metaphor are they more likely to agree, or is it more important that
metaphors somehow complement each other, cluster, or mutually stimulate metaphor
play? Is familiarity with a wide range
of conventional metaphors useful, or is it how completely a metaphor is fleshed
out into its various mappings, its aspectual or event sequential structure? Is it better to focus
on governing metaphors that frame the overall conflict in thematic terms, or to
look for patterns in the use of primary conceptual metaphors? Is general
knowledge of how metaphor works - its architecture or anatomy - valuable
to understanding what a person means, and more specifically to a mediator or negotiator in understanding conflict?
Are there certain metaphors that produce better results? Some conflict resolution specialists want to know
the metaphors that, if used, will work best in mediation and negotiation.
Are gardening metaphors more effective than sports metaphors? Is it
helpful to familiarize oneself with the metaphors common in particular
subcultures, or to introduce metaphors that suggest certain forms of
solutions? I noted that in the field of education there is a lively
interest in what metaphors are most useful to teach certain subjects.
There is a body of literature on the most effective metaphors to use in
psychotherapy. Journals of business management debate what metaphors are
most appropriate to lead high technology companies in a global marketplace.
Lawyers and judges ponder the constraining effect on judicial decisions when
certain metaphors are used in arguing a case.
In relatively more complex situations or disputes, are
some metaphors more likely to be used than Others? More helpful than
others? If resolution of conflict
depends on disputants understanding highly complex situations more clearly, are
certain metaphors or innovative mappings of common metaphors likely to aid in
comprehension of the complexity?
What are particular advantages of detecting the hidden metaphors in
discussion? Rapport, self-determination, and an open-ended approach to interpersonal
communications are considered very important in general and specifically in conflict resolution. A
wide range of mediation experts seem to agree that only
the disputants themselves know what their particular conflicts are about, and
genuine progress depends on this knowledge.
So the disputants' versions are to be elicited with as little external framing
and structure as possible in order to learn about their relevant subjective
experience. To what
extent is knowledge of metaphor valuable when trying to hear the
different people’s definitions of a situation, help
them disclose their points of view, and broaden their sense of what to do or
where to go?
does one learn to detect metaphors implicit in dialog? Special
knowledge of metaphor is simply not necessary to understand what people mean.
We are accustomed to hearing a metaphor source mixed with literal discourse and
other figurative forms and we understand meaning without consciously making such
distinctions or identifying metaphors. But if we want to gain facility
with metaphor and use this to understand more, how do we overcome the habit
of ignoring metaphor so as to develop metaphor-awareness skills?
Is professional practice dominated by certain metaphors that enable
and constrain it? Perhaps nowhere is the understanding of metaphor
more important than in the literature of a teaching-learning community where
experienced experts are imparting their understanding of a complex subject to
those with less experience. Such literature records the experts’ insights, theories, techniques and
research on how to conduct their profession.
Through such literature a profession makes progress in developing and
refining its practices and teaching those who are moving forward in their
careers. To what extent is this literature, and the training formats
derived from it, dependent on unconsciously-used metaphor that, in turn,
supports, contradicts, confuses, limits, or enhances the end result? Can
changes in these metaphors enhance practice?
179): "...tease out underlying attitudes and make explicit various
persuasive devices" that convey the writers' understanding of what [each
type] of mediation is.
- Several papers
already drafted or written (see Articles/Workshops)
on this; also predecessor of Iberica which is long RAAMV.
Papers intended for conflict resolution journals:
Papers intended for journals publishing on
on what conflict resolution scholars seem to want to know about metaphor
. . . More Detail (as
'Less theory (I love the theory
but it is difficult at first glance) and more practical and how you have
Conflict: Professional Literature of Mediation Explains It Figuratively
(How the Trainers Tell Us What Conflict Is): A publishable version of IACM
2007 If “Journeys” and “Things” Frame Our Thinking, Can We
Adequately Reason About The Nature of Conflict?
The Nature of Conflict as Metaphorically
Intro making intro points of RaAM
Jones and Hughes comparison with
metaphoric understanding of time.
research in IACM 2007, leaving out the dynamical systems literature since
this comparison is not the point here, more an explication of metaphors
found in first corpus, partial answer to Jones and Hughes’ question.
Corroborate with a few quotes that
show abstract, figurative language. Is this typical? How dependent
are we on metaphors? What are implications for training, understanding
of particular conflicts and resultant conduct of negotiation/mediation,
development of conflict resolution field?
What metaphors? What
different ones? Coherence? Match/mismatch with literal
statements? Clarity? Unexpected intent revealed or
suggested? Adequately complex to be useful in the real world?
Does it allow generalizations? Are available generalizations the kind
that can translate readily into best practices?
Based on IACM
2007 plus IACM
2005 but intended for
metaphor/linguistics journal (see below):
Combine the last 2 IACM papers’
findings; see if the 1st can’t be a logical extension of the 2nd
in that it uses lexicons related to the findings of the 1st (could
do some re-analysis of the 1st with lexicons based on material
objects, personification…). The
main idea would be (1) almost same set of conventional metaphors in both
professional mediation literature and transcripts of negotiations, (2) and the frequent calls for better
metaphors to advance conflict resolution theory and practice, (3) unconscious
choices of metaphors, if they show innovation, are in the sub-mappings
(finding especially good, new domains is not what happens), (4) on
argument that coherence and picking up on and aligning with metaphors in play
might be beneficial, elaboration of existing metaphors makes sense, (5) contrast
with research trying to account for which metaphor instantiations are most
commonly used and sound normal, to try to argue for useful meaning when
unusual sub-mappings are broached.
Could add NJ findings as adjunct
sub-analysis of one (widely familiar) negotiation dialog that shows some
evidence of elaboration, perhaps, from journey to game or to construction,
journey to survival to parent-child, boss-employee, director-actor.
What I really
want to get at is the relative effectiveness of extensions and expansions of
metaphors already in play [could conceive of lab study where information
communicated using both novel metaphors and expanded sub-mappings, test for
differences in comprehension and creative problem-solving].
that it is not new or novel metaphors, but expansions and special uses of
conventional ones, that occur in expert literature (2nd study);
that negotiators use the metaphors as extensions of literal, as frames to help
literal proposals make sense… (1st study).
(corresponds with Lakoff Moral Politics in that mappings make so much
So far taking various
forms. Trying to understand if, when, how metaphors change as
understanding of a topic develops or changes, such as when the understanding
of a topic or target domain becomes more complex or dynamic.
metaphors used by savvy sub-culture; extend IACM-2007 to include psych, etc.
& explore dynamical images from other fields.
Find metaphors initially used;
analyze literature, dialog...
Find metaphors used after
developments made, dialog advanced, paradigm introduced (e.g., dynamical
Explore what experts or lay people
use when tasked to communicate the developments, advancement, more complex
active, or response when asked.
for effect of introduction of metaphors believed to be effective (which tests
might be whether multi-factors included, how things change over time, overall
more comprehensive understanding...).
Review evident acceptance of the
idea that metaphors frame discourse and are a key to world view, that by being
conscious of metaphors-frames in use we can enhance understanding (or
communicate such understanding), thinking
and expression (and tracking of paradigm shift), and the frequent calls for better
metaphors to advance conflict resolution theory and practice.
Review use of metaphor for pedagogical
purposes, as bridge between known and unknown, where a learner attempts to
infer what is happening (or being taught - the target
"concept"). Reality often (almost always) cannot be directly
observed; what is observed is a model or representation of reality.
Then, in a learning situation, there may well be an intermediary
representation, model or metaphor that is accessible to the learner.
Finally there is the model, theory, metaphor, schema that the learner
internalizes. These models are coupled but unlikely to be
identical. We want to get to -> target concept, pedagogical
metaphor, learner's metaphor...
vs. divergent effect of metaphor. [Adjust original perspective from
conditions that indicate and support convergent or divergent use of metaphor
- to alterations (e.g., shifts, extensions...) of operating metaphors that
suggest or support changes in understanding. This may be key: compare
Muller, who attempts to identify characteristics of 'creative' metaphor',
vs. identifying conditions for the use of conventional metaphor that may
predispose divergent use of these metaphors; I think we want now to talk
about both: so-called 'creative' metaphors and conditions for use of any
metaphors that may increase divergence]
Present in summary form the
above (1) - (5), along with related studies, explore how metaphors evolve through elaboration, extension, combining with related
metaphors (at least in shorter-term), and (at least in dialog) not (often) with conscious alignment of
metaphors but seemingly as a less-than-conscious process.
Metaphor is known to draw
our attention to certain features of what is being discussed while hiding
can be a powerful framing device when it conceptualizes experience, makes
sense of events that might otherwise seem confusing, influences people’s
evaluations and judgments, and obscures alternative ways of thinking.
In this sense metaphor could be said to focus and converge thinking,
limit dialog, and narrow the scope of action that ensues.
conceptual metaphor theory (Lakoff and Johnson 1999; Kövecses 2002) describes
a structure also quite capable of diversity in that it seems to invite
redirection, alternatives, and novelty.
Educators and writers deliberately use metaphor for its capacity to
stimulate inquiry and discovery beyond set boundaries.
So in this sense metaphor could be said to have a divergent influence
while maintaining a coherent frame.
Under what circumstances is metaphor more likely to encourage
convergence versus divergence?
To present metaphor to social psychologists and to conflict resolution
scholars it will be helpful to show the relationship between metaphors and
frames. Frames are generally accepted as important. Metaphors are not
frames but some people may think they are. Frames
are descriptions of roles, identities, context, situations within which
the conflict exists...
Gray, Putnum, Aarts, Lewicki, Bouwen, Woerkum (2005) distinguish a
cognitive (knowledge schema or structure in individual memory evoked by
meta-communicative cues, telling person how to interpret the cues,
giving rise to expectations about people, events, situations) from an
interactional (co-developed through negotiation between people to align
perspectives of a situation over time as dialog progresses) approach to
framing; they say the two approaches complement each other in defining
both the more micro, static, individual structures in memory with the
enactment of macro communications frames negotiated dynamically.
The former show frames as structures of expectation stored and
represented in memory while the latter analyze discourse conversation to
show how interactive negotiation affects frames. A 3x3 matrix
identifies: knowledge schemas,
relationship schemas, interaction schemas,
issue framing, relationship framing and interaction framing.
Metaphors are descriptions of the use of a
different domain to understand the conflict domain, the relationship
domain, the negotiation process domain, etc. Metaphor can "lend"
some organization to an evanescent collection of ideas and feelings.
When is a frame metaphoric and when not? How do metaphors influence frames? Can you change one
without altering the other? Of greater notice
will be the frames or metaphoric frames that limit scope of attention,
attract the most attention, or lead to certain kinds of action.
(maybe) When do concrete facts [literal declarations] speak louder than the operating
metaphors in play? When do the metaphors speak more loudly than
facts? If you believe that facts don't exist in the absence of
operating, generative metaphors, these questions don't make sense; instead
you must track the different metaphors that are possible and determine
their effects separately and together.
[additional explanation from IACM2007 paper:}
“Literal language” involves using terms that,
though perhaps at a different level of abstraction, come from the same
conceptual domain. For
example, two people conversing might talk loudly, interrupt, even throw
things at each other; we may frame the conversation as an
“argument.” An argument
is a kind of conversation and, while summarizing qualities of the
conversation and adding connotation, this frame takes the form of a
literal proposition or qualification using a superordinate concept
closely related to, and in the same conceptual domain as,
“conversation”; it is heuristically weak.
Contrast this with someone saying that “points
were scored.” We now have
the discussion metaphorically framed by a qualitatively different
conceptual domain that most people know about – a game.
This frame is strong because it brings with it potentially more
concrete, well-formed ideas integrated with experience of teams, winning
and losing, rules, turn-taking, rematches and so forth that are
instantly available to structure our understanding and prompt our
inferential reasoning. Similarly,
“he launched a frontal assault” metaphorically frames the
conversation as war with all of its well-known attributes.
Because of their incongruous source domains (i.e., conversations
are not literally games but are only understood figuratively as such)
the frames are metaphoric; metaphoric frames, I argue, invoke a
conceptual “otherness” that can increase their influence.
In informal conversations I have found that they are not particularly struck by findings that show metaphor to underlie
mediator thinking or to account for the standard thinking among conflict
resolution scholars (perhaps it just doesn't matter that the thinking is
figurative instead of literal; perhaps the linguistic evidence doesn't
convince them and they continue to believe that people think based on the
literal, concrete facts as they see them; the message isn't yet dramatic
enough to the effect that "concrete facts as they see them" is
largely a function of the generative metaphors that are in play - that this
thinking is not grounded so much in the reality being focused upon as it is
in pre-selected patterns from entirely different domains).
Instead they are interested in:
If a mediator or negotiator uses a particular metaphor, how does that
narrow the scope or predispose ongoing comments (probably also, how might it expand
them)? Can patterns be found in negotiator dialogue that when a
particular metaphor is used, certain things are likely to follow?
Can we look for patterns, once certain metaphors are introduced, showing
narrowing of attention or predisposition to certain continuing patterns?
What we may well find is a complex
evolving and combining of metaphors, which processes might be blunted or
enhanced by certain interventions, but no strict cause and effect.
Very strong metaphors in coordinated combination with complimentary ones
would be predicted to have more pronounced effect. [this is the
If a mediator uses a metaphor how might that distract disputants, shift
them unintentionally, offend, or prejudice them (be harmful or send dialog
in dangerous directions; probably also, how might it help)?
What are the best metaphors to use? Which are empowering, which
disempowering (perhaps also, how can you handle a given metaphor so that
it is more or less empowering - e.g., decompress/unpack time, space,
Modes That Mediators Use Metaphor
Applications of Metaphor to Mediation: Three Modes of Using Metaphor
article reviews how metaphor has been used in business and cross-cultural
negotiations, psychotherapy, and family mediation and simplifies what has
been found into three modes of metaphor application.
We will see that when corporation managers introduce the
terminology of a “fitness landscape” they are metaphorically orienting
employees to a degree of complexity in business management difficult to
conceptualize otherwise; when psychoanalysts metaphorically interpret
dreams and personal relationships as journeys they make unconscious
dynamics accessible to change; when family mediators uncover metaphors of
building construction or bodily movement in arguments divorcing couples
make about splitting up property a new clarity in communications can be
organizing principals that will allow us to integrate these diverse
examples of deliberate metaphor utilization come from what is called
conceptual metaphor theory. This
corpus of research and theory, initially formulated by Lakoff and Johnson
(1980), has burgeoned into an interdisciplinary pursuit now quite capable
of application by non-specialists. Conceptual
metaphor theory offers a coherent definition of metaphor across
linguistics, psychology, philosophy and even poetry (Lakoff & Johnson,
1999; Kövecses, 2002; Gibbs, 2003).
It sets out structural components to account for much of the
Metaphors used by clients;
uncovering, questioning, expanding
Metaphors mediators may introduce
Jointly created metaphors
Structure and the Structure of Conflict
(see first part of this;
see metaphorical understanding
in Negotiations - As Literally and Metaphorically Understood:
Power, The Metaphor of Power and the Power of Metaphor
Metaphoric understanding of power as a factor in conflict and conflict
resolution; note definitions in
literature (e.g., Zartman, Int'l Negotiation, 2002); work out
relevant conventional metaphor found in this literature (consider
lexicographic methods, including concordance analysis) and essential
Findings may include metaphoric meanings of power not included,
inconsistencies in meaning that confuse interpretations; relate to mandate
in mediation to address imbalances of power.
A more coherent presentation of Exercise