Dispositional Properties of Metaphor: The Predictive Power of the Sweet Taste Metaphor for Trait and Daily Prosociality
Metaphors often characterize prosocial actions and people as sweet. Three studies sought to explore whether conceptual metaphors of this type can provide insights into the prosocial trait of agreeableness and into daily life prosociality. Study 1 (n = 698) examined relationships between agreeableness and food taste preferences. Studies 2 (n = 66) and 3 (n = 132) utilized daily diary protocols. In Study 1, more agreeable people liked sweet foods to a greater extent. In Study 2, greater sweet food preferences predicted a stronger positive relationship between daily prosocial behaviors and positive affect, a pattern consistent with prosocial motivation. Finally, Study 3 found that daily prosocial feelings and behaviors varied positively with sweet food consumption in a manner that could not be ascribed to positive affect or self-control. Altogether, the findings encourage further efforts to extend conceptual metaphor theory to the domain of personality processes, in part by building on balance-related ideas.
Fetterman, Adam K., Meier, Brian P., and Robinson, Michael D. "Dispositional Properties of Metaphor: The Predictive Power of the Sweet Taste Metaphor for Trait and Daily Prosociality." Journal of Individual Differences 38, 3 (2017): pp. 175-188.