“…valley of segregation…”
“…path of racial justice…”
“…solid rock of brotherhood…”
Metaphor is unquestionably a powerful tool in speeches. These are just three from Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and the visualisation below shows the frequency of metaphor throughout his historic address (with pink bars representing metaphors and visual words).
This week I came across the work of Drew Westen professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University. His book The Political Brain looks at the role of emotion in determining the USA’s political life, essentially making the point that people make political decisions (for example about who to vote for) based on emotion rather than reason and rationality. I didn’t find this surprising but it’s interesting work nonetheless. Other studies seem to suggest that effectiveness of emotion varies by political orientation for example if you are a Republican politician apparently it helps a bit to make the audience laugh.