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Persuasive Writing Techniques: Logical and Emotional Appeal

When you decide to publish an article about a particular opinion, you typically do it with the purpose of trying to persuade people to understand your perspective and even encourage them to take an interest in your viewpoint.

So how do you effectively convince others to listen – and even agree – with your viewpoint? Arguing through logic and convincing through emotion are two major strategies for writing a persuasive opinion piece.

Logic and Argumentation: Persuasive Writing Strategy

Think of a constructed argument not so much as an adversarial endeavor but a search for the truth of a matter.

Just as Supreme Court justices are charged with listening to all of the evidence before coming to a conclusion, you should write your opinion piece on the assumption that your reader is seeking the most reasonable perspective based on facts.

Your job, then, as the writer of an argument, is to present the reader with the arguments and evidence supporting both – or all – perspectives and reason out why your particular view is the most logical conclusion.

The tone of such writing is dispassionate and objective; reason is king.

A common mistake with argumentative writing is presenting only the arguments that support the opinion you want your audience to adopt. That approach is not very effective because your audience naturally jumps to logical objections and counter-arguments.

If you are not able to effectively address those doubts, the reader remains suspicious and ultimately unconvinced. When you contend with all the potential objections, however, your audience is much more likely to be satisfied with the perspective that you present.

Another common error in argumentative writing is presenting a weakened argument for opposing opinions, in hopes that a cursory glance at and dismissal of the counter-arguments will satisfy your audience’s doubts. Most readers will see through this strategy, though, and that can result in a loss of respect for both the writer and the argument.

Ultimately, an effective opinion piece should be strong enough to stand up to vigorous critical scrutiny and demonstrate the strength in your perspective and argument.

For these reasons, argumentative writing is a rigorous endeavor. You typically won’t formulate a position for an article until you’ve done extensive research, because you’ll want to be well-educated on the topic before coming to any conclusions yourself.

However, taking this objective approach to developing your position can create the ideal strategy used to inform your audience of your opinion: You can use a similar discovery method to lead your audience on a path towards understanding and agreeing with your perspective.

If your own search was thorough enough, and if you express it clearly, your audience will be more likely to agree with you, or at least respect your opinion.

Tools for Logical Writing

The most effective tool in logical and argumentative writing is solid support for each aspect of your argument. By supporting your arguments with credible sources, you will create trust and credibility with your audience.

With that in mind, you will need to consider both the effectiveness of the source for making your point – whether it is a quote, facts, or data – as well as the audience’s perception of the source of that information.

Reliable research has certain markers that make it credible. You don’t have to be a researcher yourself to make quality arguments, but you do need to take time to find studies that are, in fact, reliable.

You’ll also need to assess the perceived reliability of the source. If you review a study, it’s important to look at who funded the study. For example, studies sponsored by the soda industry on the health effects of sugar consumption are more likely to present biased results than studies commissioned by the National Institutes of Health.

You’ll want to avoid any appearance of bias. If your reader perceives your sources as objective and reliable, he or she will place more trust in you and be more willing to follow your argument to its conclusion.

Emotional Appeal: Persuasive Writing Strategy

You may be inclined to write a persuasive opinion piece by convincing your audience to believe as you do through an emotional appeal.

An emotional appeal is a method of persuasion that is designed to convince the audience to adopt your opinion by eliciting an emotional response. The focus is on the opinion itself, rather than any counter-arguments, and the reader is led step by step to feel increasingly more comfortable with the thesis.

The tone can be more aggressive and passionate than in argumentation because the writer is appealing to the reader’s emotions, rather than to the logical mind.

Persuasive writing through emotional appeal is structured around conviction and anticipation. Appealing to emotions is a very powerful technique in persuasion. Humans are emotional beings and often make decisions and form beliefs based on emotions, even when reason and logic tell us otherwise.

However, using appeals to emotion as a backup to rational and logical arguments is not only valid, but a skill possessed by great communicators.

Tools for Emotional Appeal Writing

The most effective tools using the emotional appeal method are examples and sensory images.

Examples – illustrative stories – help your audience identify with someone experiencing the situation you describe. Identifying with another being can have a powerful effect on emotions, capture your audience’s attention, and persuade them to feel why your perspective is right.

Sensory images appeal to your audience’s emotional center. Reading how something looks, tastes, smells, sounds, or feels can create a visceral response that can make people relate to the situation being described.

Choosing Your Writing Strategy

While an article using argumentation and logic tends to be a more sophisticated way of getting someone to see a particular perspective, there are cases in which emotional appeal may be more appropriate – and both methods are effective.

Additionally, using the techniques together can be an incredibly powerful way to appeal to both the brain and the heart of your audience. So what should you consider when you look at your writing strategy?

Audience – Know your audience and who will be reading your piece. Are your readers more likely to be swayed by peer-reviewed research or emotional appeals?

Occasion – There’s something to be said for gauging the right time for facts, the appropriate time for conviction, and when to integrate both techniques.

Purpose – Similarly, you’ll want to keep the end-game in mind. Asking your readers to consider an alternative viewpoint might require a different approach than asking them to permanently alter their belief system.

When using logic and argumentation, keep in mind that it is designed to appeal to the mind, and strategically uses evidence to support claims and discredit counter-arguments. When utilized correctly, logic and argumentation should present strong claims that clearly connects the evidence to the claims.

When using the emotional appeal technique, keep in mind that it is designed to target the emotions of the audience to create some kind of connection between the author and his or her claim. When utilized correctly, an emotional appeal should use diction and imagery to create a bond with the reader in a human way, appeal to idealism, beauty, humor, pity or other emotions in a balanced manner, and help reinforce logical arguments.

Source: Boundless. Revised and edited by Mindfray Team.
This specific article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Persuasive Writing Techniques: Logical and Emotional Appeal

When you decide to publish an article about a particular opinion, you typically do it with the purpose of trying to persuade people to understand your perspective and even encourage them to take an interest in your viewpoint.

So how do you effectively convince others to listen – and even agree – with your viewpoint? Arguing through logic and convincing through emotion are two major strategies for writing a persuasive opinion piece.

Logic and Argumentation: Persuasive Writing Strategy

Think of a constructed argument not so much as an adversarial endeavor but a search for the truth of a matter.

Just as Supreme Court justices are charged with listening to all of the evidence before coming to a conclusion, you should write your opinion piece on the assumption that your reader is seeking the most reasonable perspective based on facts.

Your job, then, as the writer of an argument, is to present the reader with the arguments and evidence supporting both – or all – perspectives and reason out why your particular view is the most logical conclusion.

The tone of such writing is dispassionate and objective; reason is king.

A common mistake with argumentative writing is presenting only the arguments that support the opinion you want your audience to adopt. That approach is not very effective because your audience naturally jumps to logical objections and counter-arguments.

If you are not able to effectively address those doubts, the reader remains suspicious and ultimately unconvinced. When you contend with all the potential objections, however, your audience is much more likely to be satisfied with the perspective that you present.

Another common error in argumentative writing is presenting a weakened argument for opposing opinions, in hopes that a cursory glance at and dismissal of the counter-arguments will satisfy your audience’s doubts. Most readers will see through this strategy, though, and that can result in a loss of respect for both the writer and the argument.

Ultimately, an effective opinion piece should be strong enough to stand up to vigorous critical scrutiny and demonstrate the strength in your perspective and argument.

For these reasons, argumentative writing is a rigorous endeavor. You typically won’t formulate a position for an article until you’ve done extensive research, because you’ll want to be well-educated on the topic before coming to any conclusions yourself.

However, taking this objective approach to developing your position can create the ideal strategy used to inform your audience of your opinion: You can use a similar discovery method to lead your audience on a path towards understanding and agreeing with your perspective.

If your own search was thorough enough, and if you express it clearly, your audience will be more likely to agree with you, or at least respect your opinion.

Tools for Logical Writing

The most effective tool in logical and argumentative writing is solid support for each aspect of your argument. By supporting your arguments with credible sources, you will create trust and credibility with your audience.

With that in mind, you will need to consider both the effectiveness of the source for making your point – whether it is a quote, facts, or data – as well as the audience’s perception of the source of that information.

Reliable research has certain markers that make it credible. You don’t have to be a researcher yourself to make quality arguments, but you do need to take time to find studies that are, in fact, reliable.

You’ll also need to assess the perceived reliability of the source. If you review a study, it’s important to look at who funded the study. For example, studies sponsored by the soda industry on the health effects of sugar consumption are more likely to present biased results than studies commissioned by the National Institutes of Health.

You’ll want to avoid any appearance of bias. If your reader perceives your sources as objective and reliable, he or she will place more trust in you and be more willing to follow your argument to its conclusion.

Emotional Appeal: Persuasive Writing Strategy

You may be inclined to write a persuasive opinion piece by convincing your audience to believe as you do through an emotional appeal.

An emotional appeal is a method of persuasion that is designed to convince the audience to adopt your opinion by eliciting an emotional response. The focus is on the opinion itself, rather than any counter-arguments, and the reader is led step by step to feel increasingly more comfortable with the thesis.

The tone can be more aggressive and passionate than in argumentation because the writer is appealing to the reader’s emotions, rather than to the logical mind.

Persuasive writing through emotional appeal is structured around conviction and anticipation. Appealing to emotions is a very powerful technique in persuasion. Humans are emotional beings and often make decisions and form beliefs based on emotions, even when reason and logic tell us otherwise.

However, using appeals to emotion as a backup to rational and logical arguments is not only valid, but a skill possessed by great communicators.

Tools for Emotional Appeal Writing

The most effective tools using the emotional appeal method are examples and sensory images.

Examples – illustrative stories – help your audience identify with someone experiencing the situation you describe. Identifying with another being can have a powerful effect on emotions, capture your audience’s attention, and persuade them to feel why your perspective is right.

Sensory images appeal to your audience’s emotional center. Reading how something looks, tastes, smells, sounds, or feels can create a visceral response that can make people relate to the situation being described.

Choosing Your Writing Strategy

While an article using argumentation and logic tends to be a more sophisticated way of getting someone to see a particular perspective, there are cases in which emotional appeal may be more appropriate – and both methods are effective.

Additionally, using the techniques together can be an incredibly powerful way to appeal to both the brain and the heart of your audience. So what should you consider when you look at your writing strategy?

Audience – Know your audience and who will be reading your piece. Are your readers more likely to be swayed by peer-reviewed research or emotional appeals?

Occasion – There’s something to be said for gauging the right time for facts, the appropriate time for conviction, and when to integrate both techniques.

Purpose – Similarly, you’ll want to keep the end-game in mind. Asking your readers to consider an alternative viewpoint might require a different approach than asking them to permanently alter their belief system.

When using logic and argumentation, keep in mind that it is designed to appeal to the mind, and strategically uses evidence to support claims and discredit counter-arguments. When utilized correctly, logic and argumentation should present strong claims that clearly connects the evidence to the claims.

When using the emotional appeal technique, keep in mind that it is designed to target the emotions of the audience to create some kind of connection between the author and his or her claim. When utilized correctly, an emotional appeal should use diction and imagery to create a bond with the reader in a human way, appeal to idealism, beauty, humor, pity or other emotions in a balanced manner, and help reinforce logical arguments.

Source: Boundless. Revised and edited by Mindfray Team.
This specific article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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