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Persuasive Research Writing. The Basic Principles of Persuasive Writing. Persuasive writing is writing that sets out to influence or change an audience's thoughts or actions by being for or against something. How are you persuaded? .

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the basic principles of persuasive writing
The Basic Principles of Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing is writing that sets out to influence or change an audience's thoughts or actions by being for or against something.

how are you persuaded
How are you persuaded?
  • You are subjected to persuasion everyday from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. Whenever you buy a product or use a service, your choice has likely been influenced by a persuasive marketing ad.
      • Radio
      • Television
      • Magazine
      • Friends/Family
      • And more...
how do we get others to accept our point of view
How do we get others to accept our point of view?

1. by appealing to their reason

2. by appealing to their emotions (ethos)

3. by the appeal of our good character

what is the most persuasive writing technique
  • By appealing to credibility, writers can make their claims more believable. This is called an appeal to ethos, as defined by Aristotle. This is where you state your experience with the subject- are you an expert? Or what do you know about the subject?
  • Writers can appeal to logic when writing to persuade using the appeal known as logos. This appeal is manifested in the supporting statements for the writer’s claim. In most cases, a successful appeal to logos requires tangible evidence, e.g., a quote from acknowledged written material. The writer will appeal to the rationality of the audience.
    • According to William H. Deitz, pediatrician and prominent obesity expert at Tufts University School of Medicine, "The easiest way to reduce inactivity is to turn off the TV set. Almost anything else uses more energy than watching TV."
  • Possibly the most important appeal for persuasive writers is the appeal to emotions or pathos. “A successful pathetic appeal will put the audience in a suitable mood by addressing their knowledge of or feelings about the subject” (Mendelson). This can be a very effective way to win over an audience!
    • The Maki people of the South are known to be invading our towns! They are corrupting our children and taking our jobs!! Vote for me and I will eradicate this menace!
  • But the best way to win over your audience is to combine all three!
what is the best way to find persuasive facts
  • Pick a subject that you have an interest in or passion about!
  • The best way to find persuasive facts are to research, research, research!
  • You need to use reliable resources- what are these?
  • Understand and know your subject- become an expert!
things to remember
Things to remember...
  • Remember that an argument is an appeal to a person's sense of reason; it is not a violent fight, dispute, or disagreement. It is a measured, logical way of trying to persuade others to agree with you.
  • One thing to remember that there are at least two sides to every issue. If you take the attitude that there is only one side--your side--you will quite likely alienate your reader- not persuade your reader.
  • You need, then, to choose one side of an issue clearly in an effort to persuade others. If you're unsure of your own stance, how can you expect other people to assess and be convinced by your position?


  • The Truth
  • ESPN
  • Issue: Should my father stop smoking?
  • Position: Yes
  • Questions you may ask (Your reasoning skills often depend on what we call "common sense"):
  • Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I have enough evidence? (Is it sufficient?)

2. Will my audience believe my evidence? (Is it trustworthy?)

3. What are the assumptions built into my argument, and are

those assumptions fair? (Is it verifiable?)

4. Does my conclusion follow logically from the claims I make?

  • There are two basic types of reasoning processes: Deduction and Induction
what are statistics compared to other numbers
  • Statistics are powerful pieces of evidence that can effectively strengthen any argument.
  • Percentages/Ratios are the most common statistics used to describe a variable (the variable is the thing being measured, e.g., gender, true/false responses, age group, income). Percentages are used to describe the parts of a whole, the whole being one hundred. It is a proportional measurement.
  • You're likely to encounter some data, such as national crime and health statistics, described as rates rather than percentages. Rates make descriptions and comparisons between groups and over time more accurate and meaningful. The rate is usually calculated to show the number of incidents per 100,000 people.
examples of statistics
  • On a well known commercial for toothpaste it says 4 out of 5 dentists would recommend this toothpaste to their own patients.
  • The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school. By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders.
  • Seventy-five percent of American women believe they are too fat, an image problem that often leads to bulimia or anorexia. Sound strange? Not when one takes into account that female models and actresses are twenty-three percent thinner than the average woman and thinner than ninety-five percent of the female population.
  • This reasoning begins with a general principle or premise and draws a specific conclusion from it.
  • ex. All people who smoke endanger their health. (major premise)
  • My father smokes. (minor premise)
  • Therefore, my father is endangering his health. (conclusion)
  • Is this a strong argument?

* you need to offer evidence in support of your claims

* it may be impossible to prove a cause-effect link between

my father's smoking and his declining health

  • This supports a general conclusion by examining specific facts or cases.
  • Ex. If I was to argue that my father was endangering his health, I might cite specific symptoms:
    • His teeth are yellowish and he's lost a considerable amount of weight.
    • He's no longer able to cycle his 25km every morning.
    • Whenever he exerts himself physically, he ends up coughing extremely hard.
  • Other Logical Appeals?
    • You could cite smoking/cancer statistics, authority in the form of the Surgeon General, financial costs etc...
appealing to emotion
Appealing to Emotion
  • The logical appeal is certainly an extremely persuasive tool. However, our human nature also lets us be influenced by our emotions.
  • One way of evoking emotion in your reader is to use vivid images.
  • Ex. (to my father who smokes): "I remember when Grandma died of lung cancer. It was the first time I had ever seen you cry Dad. I remember that you also made me promise not to start smoking."
  • You could also offer vivid examples in support of your argument. Use language and/or images that are emotionally charged:
    • You might detail the pain of going through chemo therapy.
    • You could use X-rays of diseased lungs, or photos of cancerous gums.
appealing to our good character
Appealing to our good character
  • The appeal of your ethics can occur on one or more of the following levels in any given argument:
  • Are you a reasonable person? (That is, are you willing to listen, compromise, concede points?)
  • Are you authoritative? (Are you experienced and/or knowledgeable in the field you are arguing in?)
  • Are you an ethical/moral person (Is what you're arguing for ethically sound/morally right)
  • Are you concerned for the well-being of your audience? (To what extent will you benefit as a result of arguing from your particular position?)
  • The ethical appeal is based on the audience's perception of the speaker. Therefore, the audience must trust the speaker in order to accept the arguments. Don't overlook ethical appeal, as it can be the most effective of the three.
ensure that your evidence is convincing
Ensure that Your Evidence is Convincing
  • Is the evidence trustworthy? Does it come from reliable, informed sources.
    • Does it have a author with educational or journalistic credits?
    • Does the website URL end with .edu or .gov? – these are the most reliable sources. URL’s ending in .org are better than .com
    • A great site to find journal articles is at ebscohost
  • Is the evidence verifiable? That is, can you corroborate it through other sources. Is the evidence factual, or does it rest solely on opinion?
addressing counter arguments
Addressing Counter-Arguments
  • When you are making your argument, you must remain aware of what points your opponents will likely take exception to. If you can anticipate what the likely objections will be, and then address them in your argument, you'll likely strengthen your position.
when writing a persuasive essay
when writing a persuasive essay:
  • Have a firm opinion that you want your reader to accept.
  • Begin with a grabber or hook to get the reader's attention.
  • Offer evidence to support your opinion.
  • Conclude with a restatement of what you want the reader to do or believe.
  • Watch this trailer and state how the director is trying to persuade the viewer to come watch the movie127 Hours