When the sunny side is down: Re-mapping the relationship between direction and valence


  • Adele Pacini
  • Philip Barnard


Lakoff & Johnson (1999) argue that the understanding of positive or negative concepts is structured around our sensorimotor experience whereby “Happy is up” and “Sad is down”. Consistent with this, Meier and Robinson (2004) found that positive evaluations of words gave faster responses to spatial probes in an upper region of space compared to lower regions of space, and vice versa for negative evaluations. However, “She blew her top” or “He dropped his grudge” are both common metaphors despite reversing the basic mapping. Using Meier and Robinson’s (2004) paradigm, we generated “negative-up” and “positive-down” phrases. Results showed a probe position x valence interaction in the opposite direction to that found by Meier and Robinson (2004). This suggests the relationship between direction and valence is not necessarily a single mapping, as envisaged by Lakoff & Johnson (1999).