The art of persuasion was a mainstay of Aristotle’s teachings more than 2,000 years ago. Aristotle taught three persuasion techniques, which he called ethos, pathos, and logos. These techniques have been used by writers and speakers ever since to change the opinion of others. Which technique works best depends on the audience the writer or speaker is addressing. For writers, it’s best to keep in mind that they are meeting with their readers face-to-face and that their reading audience may be spread out across the state, nation, or world. With that in mind, writers won’t always know which persuasive technique will work best, so they must make use of all three forms of persuasion.
Ethos, Logos, Pathos in brief
In the art of persuasion, writers should use these three techniques:
- an ethical call (ethos) to influence readers on the basis of their moral fiber and trustworthiness and integrity.
- A logical appeal (logos) to persuade readers through the use of rational analysis and logic.
- an emotional call (pathos) to change the minds of readers by awakening their emotions.
ETHOS, the credibility of the writer
Ethos makes use of the credibility of the writer as an expert or reputation within the community. Readers may not accept a writer’s argument if the writer has an unclear reputation or if the writer is trying to discuss a topic in which he or she has absolutely no experience. If the writer is trying to start a reputation with a new audience or is starting to build a reputation as an expert in a specific field, then that writer must not only behave consistently, but must also be consistent in their writing skills and have aptitudes. for properly researching your topics. If beginning writers still don’t know the subject inside and out, then they should do their best to research all the information they can find and study, study, study until they can come across as someone who knows what they are about. talking. upon. In other words, if you are not an expert, become one. If the writer can discuss a topic and explain it in a way that readers can easily understand, then readers will come to see the writer as an expert much more quickly.
LOGOS. the writer uses logic and reasoning
Writers convince their readers that the writers’ argument is sound, or they persuade readers to change their minds, by presenting their material in a rational, chronological style. Writers’ arguments must be backed up with detail, solid analysis, and verifiable evidence. Writers can strengthen their credibility by adding graphs and tables, statistics, photos, and first-hand experiences to the article they are writing. Details, analysis, and evidence, as well as graphs, tables, statistics, photos, and first-hand experiences, either all together or in any combination, will help convince readers that the writers’ arguments are valid, which makes it easier for readers to agree with them. If writers can make use of metaphors, analogies, and similes, they can help their readers connect the writers’ arguments with experiences and circumstances in their own lives. When writers make these kinds of connections, they are more likely to convince their readers.
PATHOS, the writer appeals to emotions
Writers, of course, can always appeal to the emotions of their readers to get them to act. Stirring up readers’ emotions can inflame their sensibilities or arouse their interests. Through the use of certain keywords, pathos can be directed towards the goals, values or beliefs of the readers (i.e. pain, their children, threats to their community). Pathos is a means of relieving readers of their emotional needs. When reading an article with emotional appeal, readers are looking for the writer who:
- make a personal connection with them.
- show them what actions to take to correct the problem.
- give them advice on how to accept certain circumstances and events.
- Give them the opportunity to belong to a group.
Aristotle’s methods of persuasion have stood the test of time. It is worth any writer’s time to learn and apply to their writing on a regular basis. These websites have great information on Aristotle’s persuasion methods. For more research in this area, check them out.
California State University, Los Angeles: Ethos, Logos, Pathos: Three Ways to Persuade, by Dr. John R. Edlund
Web English teacher: writing arguments and persuasion, lesson plans and teaching resources
By Joan Whetzel