Emotional Appeal – Examples of a Logical Fallacy

Appeal to Emotion

Hey guys! Welcome to this video on “Appeal to the 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.

An appeal to emotion is also classified as a logical fallacy. A logical fallacy meaning that there is flawed or incorrect logic used in an argument, therefore making the argument unsound.

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 here is how 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 “appeal to emotion” 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 audiences 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 an appeal to emotion.

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 questions singles out anyone that may still try to hold to the conviction that stealing is wrong, and attempt 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 for 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! Be sure to subscribe to our channel to check out more of our videos.

See you next time!



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: March 16, 2020