Intro linguistics students are always fascinated with the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis–a theory about the degree to which language and thought intersect. Of course, empirical testing of this theory can be somewhat difficult, but a few notable studies have tried. Kay and Kempton published an article about color terms, for example, and Schneider and Hacker have explored the effects of generic he on the selection of pictures with just men, just women, and combinations of men and women.
More recent research on the effects of numbering systems on the perception of numbers also provides insight on the effects of language on thought. As Daniel Casasanto (Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics) is quoted as saying in the NPR report linked below, “What language does is give you a means of linking up our small, exact number abilities with our large, approximate number abilities.”
You can read more about this kind of research in this report, which also highlight’s Elizabet Spaepen’s (University of Chicago) research on a spontaneously created Nicaraguan sign language. Signers of this language, who have not been exposed to the number systems of Spanish or mainstream sign languages, have numbers for “one,” “two,” and “more than two,” and this seems to influence their ability to perceive anything larger. You can also watch an NSF video that demonstrates these findings.