Road Metaphors Are Powerful in Encouraging Goal-Directed Action

University freshmen put more effort into an academic task after thinking about their futures as a physical journey than after thinking of their coming years as a series of boxes, says a team led by Mark J. Landau of the University of Kansas. After being asked to visualize themselves as seniors and viewing an image of their undergraduate years as a path extending into the distance, the research participants solved 50.8% of a set of mental arithmetic problems; those who had viewed a metaphorical image of their years as a set of wooden trunks solved just 38.9%. The findings suggest that corporations, as well as sports teams and health communicators, might do well to employ journey-framed metaphors to encourage goal-directed action.

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