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Example of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

Persuasive writing is often divided into three categories or means of persuasion.

Established by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, these categories are Ethos - ethical appeal, Logos - logical reason, and Pathos - emotional appeal or persuasion.

Ethos (Greek for 'character') means using credibility or ethical persuasion as a method of convincing an audience based on the character or integrity of the author. When a person speaks using this method of persuasion we typically believe them because the person is trustworthy or reliable. We often have a respect for the speaker and trust that what they say is accurate even we do not know for sure ourselves. For example, if you are seeking the advice of a trusted teacher or doctor, you are more likely to follow and listen to the opinion given even if you do not completely understand the reason behind their suggestions.

Logos (Greek for 'word') means persuading by using logical appeal and reasoning. The focus of this method of persuasion is a highly focused, almost mathematical logic that will appeal to intellect rather than emotions. This type of argument depends on the speaker's/writer's credibility for supporting any arguments that are made.

Pathos (Greek for 'experience' as in experiencing emotion) is a means of persuasion using emotional appeal. This style of persuasion relies on the audience identifying with the speaker/writer's emotions or point of view. Whenever we make a decision or accept a claim based on our emotions, we are acting on pathos, regardless of the type of emotion be it love, hate, guilt, anger or patriotism. Many of the arguments we see in the news or from politicians are based on a pathos appeal. This method can sometimes seem controlling but it is one of the more effect methods of winning over an audience. Appealing to the pathos of a group invokes empathy and can compel people to listen and take action.