The Role of Defaultness in Affecting Pleasure: The Optimal Innovation Hypothesis Revisited

Rachel Giora, Shir Givoni, Vered Heruti, Ofer Fein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Optimal Innovation Hypothesis (Giora et al., 2004), following from the Graded Salience Hypothesis (Giora, 2003), is being reviewed and revisited. The attempt is to expand the notion of Optimal Innovation to allow it to apply to both stimuli’s coded meanings as well as their noncoded, constructed interpretations. According to the Optimal Innovation Hypothesis, Optimal Innovations, when devised (KNOW HOPE), will be more pleasing than nonoptimally innovative counterparts (No hope). Unlike such competitors, Optimal Innovations (KNOW HOPE) deautomatize familiar coded alternatives (No hope), which invoke unconditional responses (“despair”) alongside novel but distinct ones (“optimism”), allowing both responses to interact. Conversely, the Revised Optimal Innovation Hypothesis, introduced and tested here, follows from the Defaultness Hypothesis (Giora et al., 2015b). It posits that both default lexicalized meanings and default constructed interpretations might be qualifiable for Optimal Innovation once they are deautomatized by nondefault, context-dependent counterparts. Such nondefault Optimal Innovations (e.g., the affirmative sarcastic exclamation The most organized student, describing a messy student) will be pleasing, more pleasing than default and nondefault counterparts not qualifiable for Optimal Innovation (e.g., the default negative sarcastic exclamation Not the most organized student, describing a messy student). Results of two experiments support the Revised Optimal Innovation Hypothesis, while further corroborating the Defaultness Hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 436/12) to Rachel Giora.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation436/12


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Role of Defaultness in Affecting Pleasure: The Optimal Innovation Hypothesis Revisited'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this