|Emotional (Pathos)||Authoritative (Ethos)||Logical (Logos)|
|Argument based on emotions and beliefs||Argument based on trust and authority||Argument based on facts and reason|
“Without your support, these pandas have little hope of survival. Would you like to ensure these majestic creatures survive for your children and grandchildren to see? If so, please give £50 today. It’s not too late to help save pandas from extinction.”
See how the language is very emotive: “majestic creatures” implies something special that needs to be looked after, which makes us feel responsible. The use of second person makes this very personal –and forces the reader to feel something.
“The Royal Society of Panda Preservation urges you to act fast. The RSPP has recorded a sharp decline in numbers and believes the species could die out within a generation. The RSPP asks for just £50 to help fund its important work.”
The whole basis of this argument is that the PSPP know what they’re talking about; you can trust what they’re saying because they’re the experts and should be believed. Notice there are no figures to back up their argument; they don’t really need to as they’re the authority.
“Recent figures show the panda population has declined by 90% in the last 15 years. It is forecasted that there will be fewer than 100 pandas living in the wild by 2025. A donation of £50 will pay for further research into ways of conserving the panda population.”
This is a very effective argument because facts don’t lie! The cold, hard figures here speak for themselves. Obviously you will want to ask who provided these figures, and whether they be trusted.
A good argument blends these three techniques
For instance, you can mix authority and logic:
“The RSPP report a 90% decline…”
Or emotional and logical:
“There’ll be fewer than 100 pandas in 10 years; what will you tell your children then..?”
- Make sure you have a mix of all three modes of persuasive. A purely emotional argument will seem overly sentimental, a purely logical argument can be quite boring (and therefore lose its persuasive effect), and an authoritative argument can seem a bit arrogant and too subjective.
- Adjust the ratio for your audience. E.g. if you’re told to write to a family member, you may want to focus on more of the emotional argument.