The Subjectivity Problem: Improving Triangulation Approaches in Metaphor Analysis Studies

Sonya L. Armstrong, Hope Smith Davis, Eric J. Paulson


Metaphor analysis procedures for uncovering participant conceptualizations have been well-established in qualitative research settings since the early 1980s; however, one common criticism of metaphor analysis is the trustworthiness of the findings. Namely, accurate determination of the conceptual metaphors held by participants based on the investigation of linguistic metaphors has been identified as a methodological issue because of the subjectivity involved in the interpretation; that is, because they are necessarily situated in specific social and cultural milieus, meanings of particular metaphors are not universally constructed nor understood. In light of these critiques, this article provides examples of two different triangulation methods that can be employed to supplement the trustworthiness of the findings when metaphor analysis methodologies are used.

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