Persuasive writing in essays Effective Learning Service.
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Persuasive writing in essays Effective Learning Service
‘To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.’ ( Hellmut Walters) (Persuasion) ‘… a ‘process in which the communicator seeks to elicit a desired response.’ (Anderson 1971)
Rhetoric The persuasive power of words was discussed by Aristotle around 350 BC. He presented an analysis of rhetorical strategies, which included three elements: logos, pathos and ethos:
Logos An attempt to persuade the audience (or reader) through sound reasoning. Reliable evidence, e.g. facts, definitions, statistics and other data that appeals to the logic and intelligence of the audience.
Ethos Appeal of the speaker or writer in terms of his / her credibility and experience Presents, directly or indirectly, a profile that sets a stamp of authority on the words used to persuade.
Pathos An appeal to the emotions of the reader or audience. Attempt to induce a particular state of mind in e.g. anger, understanding, sympathy, tolerance Taps into the sentiment or feelings of the audience or readership.
Aristotle’s model of persuasion Pathos Ethos Logos
Emotion and academic writing ‘Emotion’ not a word usually associated with essay. What words do you associate with ‘essay’?
Conventional essay style Description and analysis Carefully referenced evidence Substantiated argument Presents writer as ‘serious thinker’ Respects the reader’s intelligence Measured style Objective voice e.g. ‘It can be argued that …’ Yet paradoxically present, even champion, a particular view
Rationalist style – potential problems Garfinkel argues that the relationship between the act of representation and represented object is dialectical not unidirectional. The character of the representation changes in the attempt to explain the perceived nature of underlying reality while the object ‘changes’, in turn, to accommodate the language employed to represent it. Representation, in other words, is a dynamic, interactive process in which the ‘actor’, and the form of representation, that is language, ‘constructs’ some at least of the reality under investigation (Garfinkel 1967).
Avoid emotive language It is important to pay attention to the logical (logos) and credibility (pathos) elements You can also write in a way that connects with the experiences, senses and emotions of the essay reader. But avoid emotive language
Avoiding emotive (manipulative) language Identify the emotive language used in Examples 1 & 2 (page 6) Not appealing to … … popular sentiment … pity … fear … authority
A place for emotional connection in academic writing ? ‘New and valuable lines of argumentation, prompting critical questioning and steers the argument in a constructive direction.’ (Walton 1992) Make ideas more … … accessible … understandable … relevant to the reader Especially by appealing to the senses (see page 11)
Logos (logical) Pathos (emotional) Ethos (credibility) Check facts carefully before including Demonstrate your knowledge of relevant Theories, Models, Ideas and Practices Give evidence to back up statements, accurately referenced. Demonstrate your knowledge of a range of arguments. Illustrate ideas with real life examples (or quotations; see p.20) Use simple words; and that connect with the senses and reality of your readers’ lives. Address the reader in an intelligent manner. Strive for variety in your writing (see p.20) Clear structure to your writing Succinct and to the point No spelling or grammatical errors Demonstrate your reading on the essay topic. Logos, Pathos & Ethos in essay writing
Effective pathos techniques in essay writing (p 13) Quotations VAK words connecting with the senses Rhetorical questions ? Variety in style Active form
Words appealing to the senses VisualAuditoryKinaesthetic e.g. See Picture Focus Highlight Show Colourful … e.g. Say Report Sound Call Comment Resonant … e.g. Feel Carry Weight Strong Impact Impressive …
Suggested reading on this topic Walton, D. (1992). The Place of Emotion in Argument. USA: Pennsylvania State University Press. References Ahmad, R. and McMahon, K. (2006). The Benefits of Good Writing: Or Why does it matter that Students Write Well? In Writing Matters. Royal Literary Fund. Available at http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/research.cfm [Accessed 5 Feb. 2007]. Andersen, K. (1971). Persuasion Theory and Practice. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.