Embodied metaphor and the “true” self: Priming entity expansion and protection influences intrinsic self-expressions in self-perceptions and interpersonal behavior Academic Article uri icon


  • Drawing on conceptual metaphor perspectives and embodied cognition theories, we proposed that the intrinsic self-concept-who people think they truly are-is represented metaphorically as a physical entity, and that expressions of the intrinsic self-concept are therefore conceptualized in terms of entity activity. Using an empirical strategy for experimentally investigating conceptual metaphor, we tested whether exposure to pictorial primes depicting entity expansion and protection produces metaphor-consistent effects on self-perceptions and interpersonal behaviors expressive of the intrinsic self-concept. In Study 1, participants primed with entity expansion perceived themselves as more self-actualized and less concerned with satisfying extrinsic contingencies of self-esteem. Study 2 showed that this effect was mediated by the increased accessibility of the concept entity expansion. In Study 3, expansion-primed participants conformed less to other people's opinions. In Study 4, participants primed with entity protection were less willing to disclose intimate, but not non-intimate, self-knowledge to a stranger. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

author list (cited authors)

  • Landau, M. J., Vess, M., Arndt, J., Rothschild, Z. K., Sullivan, D., & Atchley, R. A.

citation count

  • 40

publication date

  • January 2011