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Emotional Versus Logical Appeals Help

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Updated on Sep 2, 2011

Emotional Versus Logical Appeals

This lesson will cover how to make your argument logical as well as persuasive for your reader. This lesson will also help you distinguish between emotional writing and logical or factual writing.

It is important to feel passionate about your subject matter and your research paper. In fact, you may have a strong emotional tie to your topic. This is normal because after all, you have invested a great deal of time doing research on a compelling topic. Naturally, you want your readers to share your enthusiasm and sense of discovery. In a sense, you want them to be carried away by your topic. But the question remains, how do you transfer this keen interest in your topic to the reader? Do you address your reader personally—appeal to his or her emotions outright? What about using passionate, emotional language? In short, how do you convey your feelings about your subject matter without coloring your presentation of the material?

Passion Is in the Writing

Let's return once again to the example of a lawyer in the courtroom. Imagine that instead of defending a client accused of negligence in a hit and run accident, you are now defending a client who has been charged with first-degree murder. After spending a lot of time with your client and reviewing a great deal of evidence (much the same way that you formulated your thesis statement and researched support material), you have concluded that your client is innocent beyond a doubt. Not only are you certain about your client's innocence, but you also feel passionately that your client has been wrongly accused. To make matters worse, there is a great deal at stake for you and your client in this case. If you don't defend your client and prove that he or she is innocent, the death penalty will be imposed. What will you do?

Professionalism Is Power

In Research Paper Point of View Help you learned when you addressed the jury—as a reader—and you determined that your statements were more powerful and more convincing if you removed all your personal feelings and prejudices in order to present an airtight argument? The same principles hold true again. Let your tone and writing style (each and every word you choose), your evidence (all the facts you have collected), and your argument (your well-worded thesis statement) convey emotion for you, but do not state your own emotions. For example, as an attorney, you could begin your opening argument by addressing the judge and jury in a highly emotional and personal way. Such an appeal might look something like this:

Example A

"Please, please. I beg of you—find my client innocent. He (or she) is such a good-hearted, kind and honest person, he (or she) doesn't deserve such a cruel charge. I can't stand the idea that any of you might find my client guilty and shamelessly condemn him (or her). The thought that my client might lose his (or her) life is too much for me to bear."

A more rational, less hysterical, and less emotionally involved attorney might make an appeal that sounds something like this:

Example B

"After careful consideration of all the facts and evidence that will be presented today, there will be no doubt that my client is completely innocent of the unjust charges that have been leveled against him (or her)."

Again, both appeals contain the same information, but Example A is too emotional. While it plays upon the feelings and sentiments of those in the courtroom very effectively, it is important to remember that you cannot rely on people's emotional reactions because they are unpredictable. In addition, conclusions that people make based on their emotions only are usually uninformed and not always valuable. The advantage to a logical appeal based upon fact is that you are not at the mercy of a reader's or juror's emotions; you are in control and are building your case through facts and data. Telling your readers how and what to feel is never as effective as persuading them and guiding them to a certain belief based upon solid evidence. A good way to distinguish between logical and emotional appeals is to remember the difference between the terms:

Logical: according to reason; according to conclusions drawn from evidence or good common sense

Emotional: relating to emotions; arousing or exhibiting strong emotion

Again, remember that being professional means appealing to the rational and logical aspects of an argument. When you enter that courtroom (or present your paper to a reader), you are walking in with your briefcase in order and your evidence (or facts) neatly assembled. You are not breaking down in tears sobbing before the entire courtroom screaming hysterically, pulling out your hair, and wailing, "Please, please help my poor client." Nor are you handing your reader a blank, scribbled sheet of paper full of food stains and disorganized notes.

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