Persuasive writing in essays. Effective Learning Service. ‘To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.’ ( Hellmut Walters) (Persuasion) ‘… a ‘process in which the communicator seeks to elicit a desired response.’
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The persuasive power of words was discussed by Aristotle around 350 BC.
He presented an analysis of rhetorical strategies, which included three elements: logos, pathos and ethos:
An attempt to persuade the audience (or reader) through sound reasoning.
Reliable evidence, e.g. facts, definitions, statistics and other data that appeals to the logic and intelligence of the audience.
Appeal of the speaker or writer in terms of his / her credibility and experience
Presents, directly or indirectly, a profile that sets a stamp of authority on the words used to persuade.
An appeal to the emotions of the reader or audience.
Attempt to induce a particular state of mind in e.g. anger, understanding, sympathy, tolerance
Taps into the sentiment or feelings of the audience or readership.
Garfinkel argues that the relationship between the act of representation and represented object is dialectical not unidirectional. The character of the representation changes in the attempt to explain the perceived nature of underlying reality while the object ‘changes’, in turn, to accommodate the language employed to represent it. Representation, in other words, is a dynamic, interactive process in which the ‘actor’, and the form of representation, that is language, ‘constructs’ some at least of the reality under investigation (Garfinkel 1967).
Examples 1 & 2 (page 6)
Not appealing to …
Make ideas more …
… relevant to the reader
Especially by appealing to the senses (see page 11)
Walton, D. (1992). The Place of Emotion in Argument. USA: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Ahmad, R. and McMahon, K. (2006). The Benefits of Good Writing: Or Why does it matter that Students Write Well? In Writing Matters. Royal Literary Fund. Available at http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/research.cfm [Accessed 5 Feb. 2007].
Andersen, K. (1971). Persuasion Theory and Practice.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon.