“All Gas and No Brakes!”: Helpful metaphor or harmful stereotype?
Payne, M.A. (2012). “All Gas and No Brakes!”: Helpful metaphor or harmful stereotype? Journal of Adolescent Research, 27(1), 3-17.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/6576
In this essay, I consider the concurrent emergence of a new generic metaphor for the adolescent condition and suggest that, given the familiar notions of a poorly controlled (or even totally out-of-control) state of being it invokes, its endorsement by “teen brain” supporters seriously compromises assertions of even-handed promotion of adolescents’ strengths and weaknesses. Of course the riposte to this might be that metaphors matter much less than “hard facts,” and such imagery should be seen merely as helpful (even mildly humorous) conceptual shorthand for complex science. Do a few “mere words,” therefore, truly warrant special attention? Believing they do, and that this metaphor constitutes a significantly undesirable contribution to the way Western adults are being persuaded to think and talk about young people, I first offer an eclectic sampling of its use and then consider its potential influence with reference to the general role of metaphor in constructing developmental understandings.
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