Conceptual metaphorical mapping in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Christoph D. Dahl, Ikuma Adachi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Conceptual metaphors are linguistic constructions. Such a metaphor is humans' mental representation of social rank as a pyramidal-like structure. High-ranked individuals are represented in higher positions than low-ranked individuals. We show that conceptual metaphorical mapping between social rank and the representational domain exists in our closest evolutionary relatives, the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee participants were requested to discriminate face identities in a vertical arrangement. We found a modulation of response latencies by the rank of the presented individual and the position on the display: a high-ranked individual presented in the higher and a low-ranked individual in the lower position led to quicker identity discrimination than a high-ranked individual in the lower and a low-ranked individual in the higher position. Such a spatial representation of dominance hierarchy in chimpanzees suggests that a natural tendency to systematically map an abstract dimension exists in the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00932
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 22 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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