We propose that metaphor is a mechanism by which motivational states in one conceptual domain can influence attitudes in a superficially unrelated domain. Two studies tested whether activating motives related to the self-concept influences attitudes toward social topics when the topics' metaphoric association to the motives is made salient through linguistic framing. In Study 1, heightened motivation to protect one's own body from contamination led to harsher attitudes toward immigrants entering the United States when the country was framed in body-metaphoric, rather than literal, terms. In Study 2, a self-esteem threat led to more positive attitudes toward binge drinking of alcohol when drinking was metaphorically framed as physical self-destruction, compared with when it was framed literally or metaphorically as competitive other-destruction.
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