Adam K. Fetterman Lecture: Nostalgia a Pleasant Suprise
By Sam Shourds, Staff Writer
Adam K. Fetterman, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso, led a lecture on Thursday afternoon regarding research that is “truly hot off the presses.”
He spoke to the gathered group of professors, students, and community members about metaphor theory and the data he has collected over years of studying the connection between the use of metaphors and emotional adeptness.
The basis of metaphor theory, as described by Fetterman, revolves around three assumptions. First, metaphors should be common and have purposeful structure. Next, the world is processed in metaphorical ways. And finally, metaphors help us understand intangible concepts such as love, sadness, and niceness.
These three assumptions are essential to understanding how and why people use metaphors in daily speech and writing.
Further evidence shows that despite those that cite metaphor-users as cliche and generally less intelligent than those who speak in tangible ideas, those that use metaphors to explain concepts that cannot be simply quantified are actually seen as more intelligent and emotionally understanding.
As for the experimentation itself, Fetterman used a series of what he called “daily diary studies” in which participants were instructed to write about their day for eight minutes over a few days.
Through several daily diary experiments, including a plethora of hypotheses and data, Fetterman speaks about uncovering a connection between not only metaphor usage and emotional understanding, but also a strong link between metaphor users and nostalgia.
Nostalgia itself has been proven to increase self-continuity, self-esteem, optimism, inspiration, more positive existential feelings, and sociality. These are referred to as “functions of nostalgia” by Professor Fetterman.
By using virtual reality to place people into environments that foster the functions of nostalgia, Fetterman hopes that his research can potentially aid those with Alzheimer’s, depression, PTSD, and other disorders involving low mental imagery. He plans to further his research to help people in need and inform the public with his experimental findings.