Introduction to Pathos

What you’ll learn to do: recognize and evaluate appeals to pathos

An appeal to pathos is an appeal to someone’s emotions. For example, ads for unhealthy fast food are meant to appeal to your sense of hunger and your cravings, not to your logic that warns against such cuisine. We are exposed to appeals to emotions on an almost constant basis, so it is easy to become numb to such tactics; however, it is important to be aware of such rhetorical strategies both as readers and writers. As a reader, you should be able to analyze how some artifacts turn up the pathos to persuade; as a writer, you need to be careful not to overly rely on pathos as an attempt to sway readers. Remember that while some people may lean heavily on their emotions, others will not be persuaded by strong appeals to pathos, and you will need to consider how to reach them.

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