Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Understanding Ethos, Pathos, Logos - The Three Rhetorical Appeals

14 min read

Published on: Aug 10, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

ethos pathos logos

Have you ever struggled to persuade others to see your point of view? Do you find it challenging to convey your ideas effectively, whether in writing or speaking?

As a student, communication skills are crucial for your academic success and personal growth. However, simply stating your arguments may not be enough to convince others. You need to appeal to their emotions, logic, and credibility to create persuasive messages.

That's where ethos, pathos, and logos come in!

These three elements of communication can help you establish credibility, appeal to emotions, and make logical arguments. In this blog, we will explore the importance of ethos, pathos, and logos in effective communication. We will provide you with practical examples and tips to help you implement these principles in your own communication. 

So, let's dive in and discover the power of ethos, pathos, and logos!

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The Concept of Ethos

Ethos is the Greek word for "character”. It is a rhetorical appeal that refers to the credibility and trustworthiness of the speaker or writer. 

Ethos is a critical element of effective communication, as it helps the audience to trust and believe the message being conveyed. 

How To Establish Ethos In Your Communication

Establishing ethos in your communication is essential, whether you are giving a presentation, writing an essay, or engaging in a debate. 

To establish ethos, you need to do the following:

  • Demonstrate your expertise: Provide evidence that you are knowledgeable about the subject matter you are discussing. This could include citing sources, sharing your qualifications or experience, or referencing your previous work on the topic.
  • Show your trustworthiness: Be transparent and honest in your communication. Avoid exaggerating or distorting information, and admit when you are unsure about something.
  • Be respectful: Treat your audience with respect and avoid insulting or belittling them.

Elements of Ethos 

The three elements of ethos are phronesis, arete, and eunoia.

  1. Phronesis: It refers to practical wisdom or practical intelligence. It is the ability to demonstrate sound judgment, practical knowledge, and expertise in a particular field. Phronesis helps establish credibility by showcasing competence and expertise.
  2. Arete: Arete is often translated as "excellence" or "virtue." It refers to the character, integrity, and moral goodness of the speaker or writer. Speakers or writers with arete gain the audience's trust, enhancing the persuasive power of their message.
  3. Eunoia: It is the goodwill or benevolence displayed by the speaker or writer toward the audience. It involves the ability to show empathy, understanding, and concern for the well-being and interests of the audience. Eunoia can be conveyed through language, tone, gestures, and other non-verbal cues, making the audience feel valued.

Examples of Ethos in Communication

Here are examples of ethos in two different contexts:

Example# 1: Political Speech

In a political speech, a candidate may establish their credibility by referencing their experience in public service, accomplishments, and education. 

For example, a candidate might say,

"As a former mayor and state senator, I have the experience and leadership skills necessary to tackle the challenges facing our state. I earned a degree in economics from Harvard University, and I have a track record of working across the aisle to get things done."

Example# 2: Marketing

In marketing, a company may use ethos to establish credibility and trustworthiness with its customers. For example, a company that sells natural and organic skincare products might use the tagline,

"Trusted by dermatologists and loved by our customers for over 20 years." 

The company uses ethos in its marketing by highlighting the endorsement of dermatologists and the loyalty of its customers. This approach appeals to consumers who value natural and safe skincare products.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Ethos

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using ethos in communication:

  • Using irrelevant or unreliable sources to back up your arguments.
  • Overemphasizing your own qualifications or expertise to the point of appearing arrogant.
  • Failing to address counterarguments or alternative perspectives.
  • Providing false information or distorting facts.
  • Insulting or belittling your audience.

Want to learn about Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in a fun way? Watch this video!

The Concept of Pathos

Pathos is a rhetorical device that involves the use of emotional appeals to persuade an audience. It is one of the three modes of persuasion identified by Aristotle, alongside ethos and logos. 

Pathos is about connecting with your audience on an emotional level, appealing to their values, desires, fears, and hopes. Effective use of pathos can be a powerful tool for communication because it can engage the audience and elicit a response.

Some of the most common emotions that pathos appeals to include: love, fear, anger, pity, joy, and sadness. 

How To Use Pathos Effectively in Your Communication 

To use pathos effectively in your communication, consider the following tips:

  • Know your audience: Understand the emotions, values, and beliefs of your audience to tailor your message to them.
  • Use vivid language and imagery: It creates a visual image in the audience's mind to make your message more memorable.
  • Tell stories: Stories are a powerful way to evoke emotions and create empathy. Use anecdotes and narratives that illustrate your point and appeal to your audience's emotions.
  • Use humor: Humor can be an effective way to create a positive emotional connection with your audience.
  • Be sincere: Authenticity is key when using pathos. Avoid manipulating emotions or using insincere tactics to elicit an emotional response.
  • Use appropriate emotions: Be mindful of the emotions you are appealing to and make sure they are appropriate for the message.
  • Combine pathos with logos and ethos: Pathos is most effective when used in conjunction with logical reasoning and ethical appeals.

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Examples of Pathos in Communication

Here are two examples of pathos in communication:

Example# 1: Speech About Climate Change

"I have a daughter, and every day, I look into her eyes and wonder what kind of world she will inherit. I want her to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. I want her to be able to see the beauty of nature and experience the wonder of our planet. That's why we must take action now to protect our planet for future generations."

Here, the speaker uses pathos by appealing to the audience's emotions about their children and the future of the planet. The emotional appeal is reinforced by the personal anecdote of looking into his daughter's eyes.

Example# 2: Speech About Overcoming Adversity

"When I was a child, I was diagnosed with a learning disability. I was told that I would never be able to succeed academically. But I refused to let that define me. I worked hard every day, and with the help of my family and teachers, I overcame my disability and went on to graduate with honors from college. If I can do it, so can you."

Here the speaker uses pathos by appealing to the audience's emotions about overcoming adversity and achieving success. The emotional appeal is reinforced by the personal anecdote of the speaker's own struggle with a learning disability.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Pathos

Let’s take a look at some common mistakes to avoid when using pathos:

  • Overusing emotions to manipulate the audience.
  • Using inappropriate emotions for the audience or message.
  • Ignoring or downplaying logical or ethical appeals.
  • Failing to back up emotional appeals with evidence or support.
  • Using too many emotional appeals, which can weaken the overall impact.
  • Using clichéd or overused emotional appeals.
  • Being insincere or fake when trying to appeal to emotions.

The Concept of Logos

Logos is a Greek word that means ‘plan’ or ‘reason.’ It is the use of logic, reasoning, and evidence to support an argument or message. It establishes credibility and reliability by presenting a well-reasoned and logical argument.

Logos is particularly important in academic or professional contexts, where accuracy, precision, and objectivity are valued. It can also be used effectively in marketing messages that rely on data, statistics, or other evidence to support claims.

How To Use Logos Effectively in Your Communication 

Here is how to use logos in your communication:

Do your research: Thoroughly research your topic and gather relevant data and statistics to support your argument.
Use clear and concise language: Use language that is easy to understand and avoid technical jargon or overly complicated terminology.
Use visual aids: Charts, graphs, and other visual aids can help to illustrate your points and make your argument more persuasive.
Appeal to common sense: Use logical reasoning and appeal to common sense to support your argument.
Anticipate counterarguments: Consider potential counterarguments to your position and address them in your communication.
Be honest and transparent: Use accurate and truthful information, and be transparent about your sources and methodology.

Examples of Logos in Communication

Let’s check examples of logos in communication:

Example# 1:

 "According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease by up to 50%. Therefore, incorporating exercise into your daily routine can have significant health benefits."

Here, the speaker is using a statistic from a credible source to support the argument that regular exercise is important for good health.

Example# 2:

"Based on historical trends and current market data, it is clear that investing in renewable energy is not only good for the environment, but also a smart financial decision. In fact, the renewable energy sector has seen steady growth and profitability over the past decade, with projections for continued growth in the future."

In this example, the speaker is using market data to support the argument that investing in renewable energy is a smart decision.

Mistakes to Avoid when Using Logos

To be effective in using logos, it's important to avoid certain mistakes.

  • Failing to use credible sources or using outdated information.
  • Ignoring counterarguments or failing to address potential weaknesses in your argument.
  • Overloading the audience with too much data or technical jargon that they may not understand.
  • Using faulty or illogical reasoning, such as drawing false conclusions or making unwarranted assumptions.
  • Failing to connect with the audience on an emotional level, as logos alone may not always be persuasive enough.
  • Ignoring the context or audience, such as using data or evidence that may not be relevant or persuasive to them.

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Comparison of Rhetorical Appeals: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Here is a comparison table of the three main rhetorical appeals:

DefinitionSpeaker's credibilityEmotional appealAppeal to logic
FocusSpeaker's characterAudience's emotionsAudience's reasoning

Key Elements 

Speaker ethosEmotions of the audienceAppeal to evidence


Endorsements, testimonialsVivid descriptionsHistorical and literal analogies


Builds trust and credibilityCreates emotional connectionProvides logical argument
UseEstablishing credibilityEvoking strong emotionsConvincing audience using evidence
MistakesOverusing endorsementsManipulating emotionsUsing faulty reasoning
Body LanguageImportant for establishing ethosImportant for evoking emotionsImportant for emphasizing logic

Logical Fallacies

Should be avoidedShould be avoidedShould be avoided

Expert Tip

Gain a comprehensive understanding by exploring our blog on rhetorical analysis essays!

Ethos, Pathos, Logos Examples

The following are some ethos, logos, and pathos examples to help you make your content convincing.

To summarize, 
Understanding ethos, pathos, and logos is crucial in creating an effective and persuasive essay. These three elements can greatly influence your audience's perception and engagement with your writing. 

We hope this guide has provided you with a clear understanding of these concepts and how to incorporate them into your own writing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are ethos, pathos, and logos called?

Ethos, pathos, and logos are commonly referred to as rhetorical appeals.

What are the four components of ethos?

Below are the four components of ethos.

  1. Authority
  2. Similarity to the audience
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Expertise
Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

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