The philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE) formulated three forms of appeal which he believed rhetoricians could use in their attempt to convince his recipient. These three classic forms of appeal have proven to be quite useful in the work of reasoning. The three forms of appeal are logos, pathos and ethos.

Important to note in an analysis focusing on appeals

Appeal forms are an effect of some linguistic or rhetorical choices made by the sender in his text. Thus, in an analytical work it is only relevant to point out appeals when one can work with argument types and the linguistic and rhetorical tools that trigger appeals. Forms of appeal do not arise by themselves, but by the means, and these are the ones to be found and pointed out and on this basis see the form of appeal as an effect. This can be seen in the following small analytical bite.

In the advertisement on the right, two arms are used horizontally in the image, which causes the reader’s gaze to center around the center of the image, on the child hanging over his father’s shoulder. That focus is reinforced by the horizontal blue writing pad that helps frame the child. The vertical arms and the horizontal blue block create a calm image and it further strengthens the focus on the child. Furthermore, the pruning is semi-close, so that we can just get closer to the child and see the emotions that express. The child does not look happy, almost a bit suffering and has a tear on the cheek. In this way, some feelings are aroused by the recipient, and thus the advertisement appeals to pathos.


The sender tries to convince the recipient of his position by appealing to the recipient’s reason. The sender can do this by leaving his reasoning logical – using logical arguments that seem reasonable and that are rational. The sender can also base his claim on documentation in the form of scientific studies, statistics or the like, which means that there is a rational and logical relationship between claim and evidence. Thus, when using logos as an appeal form, the focus is on the relationship between evidence and claim to be rational and logical.

The strength of appealing to logos is that the recipient becomes rationally convinced, but the danger is that it can become too matter-of-fact and therefore boring to the recipient.


Using pathos, the sender tries to convince the recipient of his or her point of view by appealing to the recipient’s feelings. The sender does this by arousing the feelings of the recipient – disgust, sympathy, hatred or loving feelings are just a few examples of the kinds of emotions that a sender can appeal to. The sender thus tries to affect his recipient emotionally. You know it from collection targets for children in Africa, where the sender shows pictures of hungry children, but you can also try to get recipients to book a holiday trip south by showing a sun set over a turquoise water and white sandy beach. The sender may also choose to use humor or appeal to compassion. The choice of words is a particular ploy in trying to appeal to the recipient’s pathos, especially in written texts. In visual texts, the sender’s attempt to appeal to pathos may be the visual expression. So where logos is about the argument itself, pathos is about putting the recipient in a special frame of mind.

In its way of delivering its speech, the sender can arouse pathos. The voice is calm, melancholy when it comes to gathering for children in Africa. We all know the familiar speeches from movies, just before the big battle has to be fought. Speakers are inherently appealing to the emotions, but that is the way they are conveyed, too – with a powerful voice, sparkle in their eyes and an open and dynamic body language that exudes strength and will.

Also in the television news, the study host tries to set the emotional framework for the individual news through its tone of voice, volume of voice and pace of speech. It is thus interesting to see how the news speaker changes tone pitch as the news changes from the serious to the more uplifting.

The strength of the appeal pathos is that the recipient is emotionally affected and it can have a powerful effect. The disadvantage is that pathos can be transparent and therefore appear comical. Furthermore, there is also a certain likelihood that the recipient will not be emotionally affected, and then the argument falls to the ground.


Using different types of arguments and linguistic tricks, the sender tries to build a credibility so that the sender appears credible to the recipient. You can basically talk about two types of ethos: Contextual ethos, which is the ethos that has already been built up for the sender outside the individual text. It can also be called expectation ethos. Another type of ethos is Textual Ethos, which is the credibility of the sender in the individual text. This credibility is also called situational ethos.

Contextual ethos – expectation ethos

Credibility can be achieved by being an expert in a field. It can be through education (doctor, MSc), but can also be based on experience – that a father of five children seems credible when he talks about child rearing. Educational level is an obvious source of credibility, and it is used, for example, in advertisements for toothpaste, where an actor plays dentist in white cauldron and tells about the properties of this particular toothpaste. Of course, it is crucial that the source is pronounced in an area in which he or she is educated. The degree of education is also significant. Is it a professor, or is it a first-year student? Experience can also be a source of credibility – the source has experience in the field that he or she is speaking about. Consider how much and what kind of experience it takes to instill confidence in the recipient: A bank director who has no children does not have much credibility in his or her perspective on child rearing, but has, for example, experience managing a complicated workplace. Image is a third way to instill confidence. Image is the values ​​and traits you associate with the person, company or product, and it is something that builds up over a long period of time, but can disappear quickly. One example is Danske Bank, which tried to launch a new image with the campaign video “New Standards”. Here also appeared anti-capitalist clips from Occupy Wall Street and the like, and here the image of the campaign video collided with the image of Danske Bank among the population: Danske Bank is perceived as indifferent to the ordinary customer; a bank with a profit of millions without it benefiting the individual customer, and as a bank that lurked on the housing market before the housing bubble burst and the financial crisis was triggered. As the media subsequently focused on the fact that Danske Bank had introduced fees for small private customers to have a bank account in the bank, Danske Bank’s image suffered a serious blow.

If the sender does not have credibility himself, the sender can try to arouse the recipient’s confidence by referring to others – experts, people with experience in the field, or people with a good and relevant image. That it works on the recipient assumes that the recipient also considers the people involved as trustworthy. Ethos is thus about the reliability and credibility of the sender, and the sender may therefore have to obtain his credibility with other experts or the like, thereby strengthening his own credibility.

In commercials, you can find examples of the sender trying to appeal to ethos by using a TV speaker known from serious documentary television programs as voice-over, thereby trying to convey some credibility from the well-known TV channel. speaker for the product.

Textual ethos – situational ethos

In the individual text, the sender tries to build a credibility around his reasoning and message in the text itself and thus does not draw on the credibility which the sender may have built up in advance.

The building of a textual ethos can be done through the use of, for example, arguments of authority. The sender can also create credibility by using a language that appeals to the audience. In addition, using the appeal form logos can also help build credibility. But fundamental to textual ethos is that the sender appeals carefully to his recipient through choice of arguments and choice of linguistic form.

Also, body language and the way in which he speaks and argues have an impact on the sender’s attempt to instill confidence and appear credible. If a real estate agent speaks a little too quickly, is a little too smart and does not have complete control over his numbers and papers, then the recipient, buyer, trust and do not perceive the real estate agent as credible. In this way, not only what the sender says can be crucial to arouse the recipient’s confidence, but also the way the sender makes his speech. With ethos, the focus is thus on the sender – it is the sender’s credibility and image that arouses the recipient’s confidence.

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