Idiom literality judgments in younger and older adults: Age-related effects in resolving semantic interference.
To study age effects in the resolution of idiomatic semantic ambiguity, we focus on decomposability, the extent to which a literal reading of an idiom’s words shares meaning with its figurative interpretation. Younger and older adults judged whether decomposable and nondecomposable idioms and nonidioms had a literal interpretation. Older adults were slower at making literality judgments and more sensitive to conflicts between literal and figurative meanings. The results support claims of decompositional analysis of idioms during later processing stages and of obligatory activation of figurative meanings. They also lend support to research that has shown age-related effects in ambiguity resolution. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)
from Psychology and Aging