Login
Copyright

Emotional Appeal: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What Is Employee Engagement? - Definition, Strategies & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Using Emotional Appeals
  • 1:01 Creating Emotional Appeal
  • 2:34 Fallacious or Relevant?
  • 3:27 Pathos, Logos & Ethos
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what emotional appeals are and how they can make your writing more persuasive in this lesson. Learn how to create emotional appeals and why it's important to combine them with other persuasive techniques.

Using Emotional Appeals

An emotional appeal is a method of persuasion that's designed to create an emotional response. Emotion (also known as pathos or suffering in Greek) is one of the three modes of persuasion identified by Aristotle. The other two are logos, or logic, and ethos, or authority. Emotional appeals are considered fallacies, or errors in reasoning, because they manipulate emotions in an audience.

Emotional appeals are especially prevalent in advertising. When fashion magazines play on our insecurities about body image, they're using emotional appeals. When political ads play on our fears, telling us that voting for someone will lead to financial ruin or wars, they're using emotional appeals. Students frequently use emotional appeals on their professors, hoping for pity as they ask for more time to finish a paper. Emotional appeals are used in courtrooms during trials and in persuasive essays to increase the effectiveness of arguments.

Creating Emotional Appeal

Using anecdotes, metaphors and similes, as well as descriptive language, is a common way of composing emotional appeals. Let's look at how these devices can create emotional appeal in persuasive writing, a form of writing in which an author tries to convince readers that his or her opinion on an issue is right.

An anecdote is a short story that illustrates a point. Keeping in mind the emotion he or she wants to create in a reader, a writer might utilize an anecdote that describes a best or worst case scenario. Or, the writer might place the audience in the story in a hypothetical circumstance, and then maximize the emotional content with descriptive detail. If the writer's goal is to inspire action, he or she might include a list of painful reminders of past incidents.

Metaphors and similes also are useful when creating emotional appeals. A metaphor helps make connections without being direct; it creates a comparison between two dissimilar things by stating that they're the same. For example, a lawyer might appeal to jurors' sense of doubt by referring to a defendant's alibi as a 'red herring.' Or, a political ad might reference an incumbent's failed attempts at effective legislation as 'writing a blank check.'

In contrast, a simile is a comparison using 'like' or 'as.' For example, a fashion magazine might promise that using a certain type of make-up will make the reader 'as pretty as a picture.' Or, a student might plead with a professor for an extension on a paper because his workload has him 'as tired as a dog.'

Fallacious or Relevant?

As noted previously, emotional appeals are generally considered fallacious because feelings are not evidence. However, if a direct connection between emotion and facts is made, then the emotional appeal is considered relevant. For example, a TV ad showing victims of a very recent hurricane might include a request for money or supplies. There's a clear connection between the pity you feel for the people and the facts presented, so it is a relevant, or reasonable, emotional appeal.

A fallacious emotional appeal draws a conclusion with no reliable evidence. For example, an ad might say, 'Parents who care about their children help them prepare for college. Purchase this three-volume set of college prep materials and be that caring parent.' The ad plays on parental guilt, and there's no logical link between 'caring parents' and the product.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support