What are Ethos, Pathos, and Logos? | Rhetorical Appeals

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Ever been captivated by a speaker’s credibility, moved to tears by an emotional appeal, or swayed by a well-reasoned argument? If so, chances are you’ve encountered the power of ethos, pathos and logos. But what exactly is this persuasive trio?

As it turns out, they are three different kinds of rhetorical appeals used to persuade others. Together, ethos, the credibility that makes a speaker compelling; pathos, the emotional connection they create; and lastly, logos, their logical arguments used for persuasion, work in harmony to aid communication. Let’s take a look at how this works.

Understanding Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

The art of persuasion is not a modern invention. It has deep roots dating back to ancient Greece with the philosopher Aristotle. In fact, it was Aristotle who gifted us the three rhetorical appeals thousands of years ago. He believed that ethos, pathos, and logos were key ingredients in effective persuasion. Whether we’re arguing over who gets the last slice of pizza or trying to sway public opinion on climate change, these are the tools that come into play.

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The Greek Origins of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Aristotle believed that these rhetorical appeals were key in any persuasive dialogue. Let’s dive into their origins.

Ethical appeal or “ethos” originates from the Greek word “ethos,” meaning character. It reflects credibility or an ethical appeal which convinces an audience through the authority or credibility of the persuader.

“Pathos,” derives from the Greek term connoting emotion. Using pathos means evoking emotions to gain approval from your audience.

Lastly,”logos” signifies reason or logic. This logical argument approach relies on rationality where you use facts to convince your listeners.

How Ethos, Pathos, and Logos Are Used In Rhetoric

Suppose you are trying to make an argument with an ethos appeal. In essence, ethos establishes trust between you and your audience by demonstrating personal history or credentials. In other words, you’re telling your audience why you’re worth listening to. Think Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech—his personal experiences combined with his position as a credible source effectively persuade people that change was necessary for equality.

What about pathos? To make an argument using pathos, a speaker has to tap into audiences’ values via their emotions. Suppose you’re watching a commercial that says heart disease is preventable if we exercise more. To demonstrate this fact, the commercial will likely make an emotional appeal by showing images of happy, healthy people living life to its fullest. The goal of these images would be to evoke an emotional response (longing to be like the happy people in the commercial, discontent with one’s current lifestyle) in order to elicit action (exercise). Making arguments with pathos helps them resonate at deeper levels.

On the other hand, logos relies on logical arguments and hard data to persuade. It is a powerful tool for situations where factual evidence can be presented to support an argument—it’s about persuading with commonly accepted premises.

Ethical Appeal – Exploring Ethos

Ever wonder why you trust certain speakers more than others? It isn’t just the content they deliver that’s important, but their character too. Whereas pathos and logos focus more on the argument itself, ethos focuses on who is making the argument, establishing credibility through personal character. Speakers use this technique by showcasing their knowledge or expertise in a subject matter—but it’s also about presenting oneself as someone worth listening to.

Role of Ethos in Building Trust

To truly grasp how ethos works its magic, we need to dive deeper into its role in building trust with an audience. You see, people are naturally drawn towards individuals who exhibit authenticity and reliability, qualities that form the bedrock of ethos.

This kind of persuasion isn’t just about flaunting qualifications or experiences, though. Yes, these factors contribute significantly towards establishing your credibility, but to successfully apply ethos rhetoric, you need both expertise and integrity—therein lies true ethos.

Emotional Appeal – Understanding Pathos

In the realm of persuasion, few tools are as powerful as pathos. Whereas logos and ethos appeal to reason, pathos evokes emotions in order to sway an audience.

Role of Pathos in Creating an Emotional Response

The core essence of pathos lies in stirring up emotional responses from listeners or readers. But why is it so effective? Consider this: when was the last time you made a decision purely based on hard data alone? Odds are your decisions were influenced by how certain options made you feel. No matter what we’re picking, be it a cereal or a candidate in an election, our feelings have considerable influence.

This exemplifies Aristotle’s concept that pathological appeals, combined with ethical (ethos) and logical (logos) arguments, can create persuasive argumentation that moves audiences deeply—far more than mere facts ever could.

Pathos In Advertising

Many advertisements will use pathos to make an emotional connection with their audience. This powerful tool helps to build a stronger bond between the brand and its consumers, evoking feelings that can influence buying decisions. The right blend of pathos in advertising not only entertains viewers but also leaves an enduring impact, making it a go-to strategy for many advertisers. To learn more on this technique, consider how speaker John Morgan uses emotion when speaking to his audiences.

The Power & Pitfalls of Using Pathos

Much like any tool used for persuasion, pathos, while potent, needs careful handling. It’s not about pushing folks into experiencing a specific emotion, but instead relating to the listeners on an emotional level.

However, this also means that if misused or overdone, pathos can backfire and come across as insincere or manipulative. This is where understanding your audience values and subject matter comes in handy to ensure your appeals resonate authentically rather than appearing contrived.

Logical Appeal – Unpacking Logos

Logos, in its simplest form, is the art of persuasion through logical argument. For instance, you’d be using logos if you persuaded a friend that pizza is the ideal choice for supper due to its affordability, accessibility, and universal appeal. By using the facts of the matter, you made your point watertight. Of course, this type of reasoning isn’t just about winning arguments over food choices; logos plays an integral role in many aspects of our lives.

The Use of Logical Fallacies

Incorporating logos into your speech doesn’t mean everything will always be straightforward, however. Sometimes, there will be errors in your logic—these known as logical fallacies.

Fallacies can sneak into our arguments unintentionally, but they’re used purposefully too due to their persuasive effect. For instance, one might say, “Eating fast food leads to obesity so if we want to prevent heart disease we must ban all fast foods.” This seems like sound logic on the surface level, but falls under what Aristotle called false cause—attributing causation where none exists.

Deductive fallacy is another common pitfall when using logos appeal; it involves concluding something based on false premises. For example, claiming that “All dogs bark loudly at strangers; therefore, my pet dog will scare away burglars” overlooks possible exceptions such as quiet dogs or fearless burglars.

Mastering the art of logical appeal is crucial, whether you’re creating your own speeches or assessing those of others. Like ethos and pathos, logos serves as a potent tool in any rhetorical arsenal. It could be wielded through robust data, concrete evidence, or by building convincing arguments based on mutual beliefs. As Aristotle wisely said: “The fool tells me his reasons; the wise man persuades me with my own.”

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Advertising

When it comes to the art of persuasion in advertising, Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals—ethos, pathos, and logos—are powerful tools. They persuade people by showcasing their expertise (ethos), evoking emotions (pathos), or providing logical arguments backed with hard data (logos). As you might expect, the use of these strategies varies depending on the subject matter.

Ethical Considerations in Advertising

A successful ad campaign isn’t just about using effective techniques; it also requires careful consideration of ethical aspects. For example, the advertising industry’s code of ethics, published by the International Chamber of Commerce, emphasizes that advertisements should not exploit audience’s emotions unduly nor misrepresent facts.

Rhetorical Appeals & Audience Perception

Rhetorical strategies like ethos, pathos, and logos work because they tap into what the audience values, feels, and thinks. For instance, pathos advertisement examples often use bright colors or powerful imagery to elicit an emotional response from viewers.

A heart disease campaign might show images of a happy family togetherthis uses pathos by appealing to emotions and fear of losswhereas an ethos-based ad could highlight that it’s backed by medical professionals, adding credibility. Meanwhile, a logos appeal would include factual evidence like stats about heart diseases prevalence, showing the audience why heart disease should logically be a concern.

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Recognizing Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Everyday Arguments

In daily interactions, we find these rhetorical strategies—ethos, pathos, and logos—subtly influencing us, persuading us towards one viewpoint over another. For instance, when you ask advice from someone because you believe they possess more experience—that’s ethos right there. Or when commercials show happy families enjoying a product in order to evoke positive feelings within viewers—that’s pathos doing its job.

You might think of logos as the “common sense” appeal, grounded in logical arguments. When your math teacher explains a complex concept using simple analogies or when a politician presents facts and statistics to justify their policies—you are witnessing logos ethos at play.

These techniques do not operate in isolation; they often work together for maximum impact. For instance, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches combined his personal credibility (ethos), emotional appeals about civil rights abuses (pathos), and factual data on racial inequality (logos) to powerfully persuade listeners.

FAQs in Relation to Ethos Pathos and Logos

What are the 3 types of persuasion?

The three rhetorical appeals are ethos (ethical appeal), pathos (emotional appeal), and logos (logical appeal). Together, these three form Aristotle’s tools for persuasive communication.

What is an example of ethos?

Ethos shines in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, where his credibility as a civil rights leader persuades listeners.

What are logos examples?

A classic example of logos is Sherlock Holmes’ deductive reasoning. In countless cases, he uses logic and facts to solve mysteries.

What is an example of pathos?

In ads for animal shelters, images of homeless pets tug at your heartstrings—that’s pathos working its magic.


So, what are ethos, pathos, and logos? They’re more than just Greek words. They are Aristotle’s tools for persuasion.

First off, ethos gives you credibility. It lets your audience know you’re worth listening to. Remember, trust is key.

Pathos, on the other hand, pulls at the heartstrings. It stirs emotions that can induce individuals to do or think something specific.

Lastly, logos appeals to common sense with hard data and logical arguments—it’s all about the facts!

In advertising, speeches, or everyday chats, these powerful tools show up everywhere! Use them wisely to make an impact.


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