George Lakoff has argued that metaphors underlie much of our thought and reasoning:
The science is clear. Metaphorical thought is normal. That should be widely recognized. Every time you think of paying moral debts, or getting bogged down on a project, or losing time, or being at a crossroads in a relationship, you are unconsciously activating a conceptual metaphor circuit in your brain, reasoning using it, and quite possibly making decisions and living your life on the basis of your metaphors. And that’s just normal. There’s no way around it! Metaphorical reason serves us well in everyday life. But it can do harm if you are unaware of it.
Images also seem to play a big part in most people’s thought.For instance when I think ‘I should go home soon before it gets dark’ there are associated images of my hallway and a curve of the bike path in evening light. I wonder how much the choice of such images influences our behaviour. If the image was of my sofa instead of my hallway, would I be more motivated? If the word ‘dog’ brings to mind an image of a towering beast I saw once, am I less likely to consider purchasing a dog of any kind than if it brings to mind something rabbit sized? If ‘minimum wage’ brings to mind a black triangle of dead weight loss, am I less likely to support a minimum wage than if it brings to mind an image of better paid workers (assuming my understanding of economics and society are the same)? This seems like something people must have studied, but I can’t easily find it.
It seems likely to me that such images would make some difference. If it is so, perhaps I should not let the important ones be chosen so arbitrarily (as far as my conscious mind is concerned).