Emotional Versus Logical Appeals Help (page 2)
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:
"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:
"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.
Logical Appeals In Your Paper
It is hard not to feel passionate about your subject matter, and feeling passionate about any topic is a good thing. However, as a writer, you do not want to rely on your passions or personal feelings only when trying to convince your reader. Instead, think of your feelings as a starting point or a useful tool with which to construct an airtight argument. Once again, let's use the example of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. You can write your thesis statement so that it only appeals to your reader's emotions, or you can word your thesis statement so strongly that it is emotional and logical. For example, you could write your thesis statement this way:
Please read my paper and I hope you will believe me when I prove to you that poor President Kennedy was shamelessly assassinated by an evil gunman hell-bent on destruction.
Or, you can word your thesis like this:
This paper will prove that Kennedy's assassination was the willful work of a lone assailant who meticulously planned his attack.
Again, both writing samples contain emotion and conviction, but the second one conveys emotion through strong word choices. It does not appeal to the reader's emotions only.
Practice Makes Perfect
A simple way to practice making appeals and to develop the art of persuasion is to practice out loud with a friend or even to imagine a scenario with your boss at work. What arguments might you use to persuade your boss to give you a raise? Emotional arguments might look something like this:
- Since you really like me, how about paying me more money?
- We've been such good friends for the last few years. In the interest of our special friendship, how about promoting me?
- If you promote me, I'll have much more free time to spend with you and your family, and we can do things together on weekends.
Logical appeals to your boss might sound something like this:
- The last several projects I completed were very thorough. Therefore, based on my past record, I would like the chance to work on the new account.
- Since I brought in $50,000 dollars in revenue over the last year, I have demonstrated my skills as a junior member of the sales team and would like to try for the position of senior salesman.
- Profits, which increased two-fold under my tenure, would only continue to increase under my guidance.
Which of these arguments would persuade you if you were the boss? Which of the arguments use facts and evidence as the basis for their appeal rather than appealing to the emotions only?
Passion and emotion are important. You can't write or argue convincingly about any topic or on behalf of anyone unless you have conviction. However, use your passions to build a solid argument and be sure to provide ample evidence. If you convey your passion through logic, you will convince yourself and those around you. Above all, if your argument is both logical and full of feeling, you will convince the most difficult of jurors—the reader!
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