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Using Emotional Appeals in Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing is a form of non-fiction that encourages the use of careful word choice with logical arguments and a cohesive summary. We use it to convince the reader to accept a certain point of view or to take a specific action. It’s used widely across various mediums such as advertisements, political speeches and opinion pieces.

What Are Emotional Appeals?

Emotional appeals, also known as “pathos,” are a rhetorical device used in arguments to sway an audience by provoking strong emotional responses.

These emotional responses are usually fear and anger but sometimes compassion and love. When we use them effectively, emotional appeals can deeply connect with the reader, which can also influence their thoughts and actions. So, you can see why it would be so useful for things like advertising.

Using Emotional Appeals in Your Persuasive Writing

This involves engaging your reader’s feelings to strengthen your argument. But it doesn’t mean manipulating your audience’s emotions. It’s all about making your arguments more relatable and human.

You can make your writing more compelling by tying your points to shared experiences, universal emotions and personal narratives.

  1. Identify your audience’s emotions: What are their fears, hopes, desires and values? Use this knowledge to make your emotional appeals more targeted and effective.
  2. Balance logic with emotion: Emotional appeals work best when they’re balanced with logical arguments. Too much emotion can come across as manipulative or disingenuous, while too much logic can be dry and unengaging.
  3. Always be genuine: Authenticity is key in emotional appeals. People are good at detecting insincerity, so make sure your emotional appeals come from a genuine place.
  4. Use the art of storytelling: Stories can help your audience visualize your points and feel more connected to your message.
  5. Pick your words carefully: Powerful, emotive words can elicit stronger emotional responses.
  6. Try and use variety: Don’t just stick to one type of emotional appeal. Mix it up with emotions like fear, joy, anger and compassion to keep your audience engaged.
  7. Don’t be manipulative: Emotional appeals can be powerful but shouldn’t be used to manipulate or mislead your audience. Always strive for honesty and transparency in your writing.
  8. Use visuals: Paint a picture with your words. Visual elements can evoke strong emotional responses and help your audience connect deeply with your message.
  9. Appeal to shared experiences or values: Connect your message to everyday experiences or values your audience can relate to.
  10. Revise and edit: Do your emotional appeals support your argument effectively? Are they authentic and relatable? Adjust as needed to ensure your writing is as emotionally compelling as possible.

Examples of Emotional Appeals

Here are some sentences demonstrating emotional appeals:

  1. “Every year, thousands of innocent animals are abused. Donating just a couple dollars a month can give them the care and love they desperately need.”
  2. “Imagine a world where every kid has access to good education, where every young mind is nurtured and allowed to flourish. You can help make this world a reality.”
  3. “Without immediate action, our beloved local park will be replaced with a high-rise building. Let’s preserve the place where we’ve shared so many cherished memories.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Emotional

Emotional appeals are such a powerful tool to have in your persuasive writing arsenal, but they should be used responsibly and authentically. 

Tying your arguments to emotions can make your writing more compelling and impactful, resonating deeply with your audience. But it’s all about finding that balance.