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Emotional Versus Logical Appeals Help (page 4)

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Updated on Sep 21, 2011

Emotional Versus Logical Appeals Practice and Answers

Now that you've examined two brief essays—one that appeals to emotion and one that appeals to logic—see if you can correctly identify the approaches used by the writers of the following sentences. Look carefully for a sense of logic. If the writer is appealing to your emotions, is the author's argument also backed up by logic (common sense, reason, or evidence)?

Practice

Write an E in the blank if it appeals only to your sense of emotion and an L if it appeals to logic.

  1. Using a cell phone when driving is dangerous and anyone who does this is stupid.
  2. Using a cell phone when driving is dangerous because when drivers hold a cell phone to their ear, they're using only one hand to control their motor vehicle, which makes them much more likely to have an accident.
  3. Many states have banned cell phone use when driving because it is dangerous. These laws have been put into effect because of startling statistics that point to the elevated risk of car accidents due to cell phone use.
  4. Dogs should always be kept on a leash in public places. What if you were walking down the street minding your own business and a loose dog ran up and attacked you?
  5. Dogs should always be kept on a leash in public places. A leash can protect dogs from traffic, garbage, dangerous places, and getting lost. It can also protect people from being harmed by overzealous, angry, or agitated dogs.

Answers

Argument 1 is an appeal to emotion without any logic, and arguments 2, 3, and 5 use common sense, evidence, and reason. But argument 4 might not be so obvious, since it may seem like a reasonable argument. However, it does not address all the logical reasons that leashes are necessary, but instead points to one frightening possibility. Yes, we would all like to avoid being attacked by a dog, which is a scary and threatening possibility, and by using only this scenario in the argument, the writer is appealing directly to our emotions.

Summary

Looking for appeals to logic will make you a more critical reader and thinker. And once you learn to read between the lines in an argument (to look behind emotional appeals for some sort of logical support), you'll have more confidence as a reader and be a better judge of the arguments that you hear and read.

TIP:

  • Language is often more powerful than we realize. Think about a situation in which you were enticed to buy a new game, food, movie, article of clothing, perfume, or other product or service. Was there a particular word, phrase, or sales pitch that was particularly persuasive?
  • Listen carefully to how people around you try to convince you (or others) when they want you to think or act a certain way. For example, if a friend wants you to try a new place for lunch, how does he or she try to convince you: with appeals to your sense of logic ("The food is great—and so are the prices!") or to your emotions ("What, are you afraid to try something new?")? If your boss asks you to work overtime, does he or she appeal to your sense of logic ("You'll make lots of extra money") or to your emotions ("I could really, really use your help")? See which arguments you find most convincing and why.
  • Read an editorial from the Opinion-Editorial page of your local newspaper. Look at how the writer supports his or her argument. Is the editiorial convincing? Why? What reasons or evidence does it use to support its position?

Practice exercises for this concept can be found at Reading and Drawing Conclusions Practice Test.

Test your knowledge at Reading Comprehension Final Practice Test.

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