One of Johnny Denovo’s main tools in understanding and thwarting criminals is the fact that people think in metaphors, and express these metaphors in actions. It’s a subtle insight that isn’t much appreciated outside neurolinguists, qualitative researchers, and neuroscientists, to name a few. But it’s becoming more widely appreciated.
A recent study underscored this fact. It was a study of escalators, stairs, and relative positioning. The basic question hit at one of those primal metaphors: up-down.
In short, people headed up an escalator were more generous when they reached the top, while people headed down were stingy. People who walked up a short flight of stairs were more likely to volunteer than people who walked down a short flight of stairs. And people who were up above others were more considerate of others than people who were below others by relative position.
“Up” is a metaphor for happiness (upbeat, things are looking up, on the upside) while “down” is a metaphor for disappointment (he’s looking down, there was a downturn, she’s down about her job). Here’s more proof that we think in metaphors, and reveal the basic metaphor set through our behaviors.