Appeal to the Reader’s Emotion
Hey guys! Welcome to this video on appeal to the reader’s emotion.
What is an appeal to emotion? An appeal to emotion is an effort to win an argument without facts, logic, or reason, but instead by manipulating the emotions of the audience.
Now, it is important to distinguish that this is not the same thing as pathos. Pathos is certainly used to make an appeal to emotion, but they are different. Pathos is the emotional effect of the writer or speaker on the audience using various writing styles, rhetoric, vocal intonations, gestures, and so on. You can write in a way where you use pathos to evoke the emotions of your audience but also use facts and logic.
But remember, an emotional appeal is an argument that only appeals to the emotions, without using facts, evidence, logic, or reason.
An appeal to emotion generally follows a logical form (or lack of logical form) such as this:
This statement is true. Think of how bad you will feel if it’s not true.
This statement is true. Think about how happy you will be if it is true.
This can be pretty tricky to distinguish since pathos itself is the act of appealing to the audience’s emotions, but the phrase appeal to emotion means something else.
Just know this: you are not committing a logical fallacy just because you incorporate pathos into your argument or writing, but you are committing a logical fallacy if you don’t have any facts, evidence, logic, or reason to support your main conclusion.
Now that, hopefully, we have cleared up any confusion as to how an appeal to emotion and pathos are different, we can look at some examples of emotional appeal.
Emotional Appeal Examples
Take a look at this one:
There is no such thing as objective truth in the world. It’s all about your perspective. I heard about a six-year-old girl who became an orphan and was left to fend for herself. She was on the verge of starving to death, and like anyone would do, she went into a store, grabbed some food off the shelf, went back to the alley she had been living in, and started eating it. Who are we to say that is wrong?
Let’s look at why this is an appeal to emotion, and therefore a logical fallacy.
The claim being made is that there is no such thing as objective truth and that it is all about your perspective. Then, there is the appeal to emotion. We all get uncomfortably sad and want to help this sweet starving orphaned six-year-old girl. We don’t want her to do die of starvation, we wish that her parents hadn’t died, and we wish that she wasn’t homeless. So then, with this image in mind, we are then persuaded to compromise the belief that stealing is wrong. The question asked in conclusion is “Who are we to say this is wrong?” This question singles out anyone that may still try to hold to the conviction that stealing is wrong, and attempts to make them feel like jerks. This is a really sad scenario, but there are still no facts or evidence supporting the claim that there is no such thing as objective truth.
Let’s look at another example:
The United States Military needs to be eradicated. I spoke with a widowed mother who had just lost her husband who was overseas. She said to me, holding her 4 small children and tears streaming down her face, “Just make it stop.” Vote for me and I will put an end to this institution that is bringing pain and loss to thousands of Americans.
Okay, so why is this an appeal to emotion?
The claim made is that the United States military needs to be eradicated. Then, there is the appeal to emotion where the writer appeals to our sense of pity. No one wants this woman to have lost her husband and to be left alone to take care of four kids. That is heartbreaking. The writer then presents a call to action by asking us to vote for them so that there will be an end to pain and loss. However, there have been no facts or evidence presented to support the claim.
As you watch the news, read articles, and watch commercials, practice identifying these logical fallacies.
I hope this video was helpful!
See you next time!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is emotional appeal?
Emotional appeal is an emotional manipulation that is often used to win an argument using feelings and emotion rather than logic.
How do you write an emotional appeal?
The most effective way to write an emotional appeal is to apply words that contain “pathos,” a quality that evokes pity or sadness. Such words include strong, tragic, freedom, equality, and power.
When is appeal to emotion not a fallacy?
An appeal to emotion is not a fallacy when factual evidence replaces any misleading evidence; sometimes, objectively true facts and situations are emotional enough on their own to elicit emotions from the reader.
Why is emotional appeal effective in advertising?
Emotional appeal is often effective in advertising for a few different reasons. Foremost, using emotional appeal can make a brand or product more relatable by connecting the viewer to the brand or product on a more personal level.
What is pathos?
Pathos is an appeal to emotion, using words, art, or music. Pathos used in a piece of literature, for example, elicits feelings that are already inside a person in order to make that text more appealing.