Home Social Norms Definition Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, logos

Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, logos

Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, logos
Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, logos
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Ethos, Pathos, Logos are three ancient techniques of persuasive advertising. These three techniques form a triangle that is called Rhetorical Triangle. We use these three elements (Ethos, Pathos, Logos) in commercial speeches or arguments. In this article we want to understand the meaning of these three expressions and learn how to use Ethos, Pathos, Logos in a formal transactional speech.

we talked about persuasion in advertising in before lines and now we want to explain its meaning. In persuasive advertising you should convince the buyer of your product by using visuals. 2000 years ago Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, invented the Rhetorical Triangle that nowadays we use it in three categories: Ethos, Pathos, Logos.

Each one of these categories invokes an appeal that is between the audience and the speaker. Some people may use one of these tools in their commercial speeches or arguments but the best way to persuade buyers is using all of these three elements in a balanced form. (Detisch,2020). In continue we want to introduce each technique one by one.

Credibility in Ethos, Pathos, Logos Technique

When we hear the phrase “Ethos” it reminds us ethic or ethical words. They have the same root but another practical translation of Ethos is image or character. So, Ethos is the speaker’s image or character in audience’s mind and opinion.

In Aristotle’s opinion if the buyers believe that the presenter or seller has a good moral character and positive sense it will impresses on the buyer’s tendency to buy and use the customer’s product. Nowadays we also believe that a speaker should show his or her ability and professionalism in the speech or argument to persuade the audience and have a positive first effect.

To understand the Ethos technique better we explain a simple example for you. When you go somewhere for the first time and meet someone new, the first encounter creates a first view in your mind. The first impression is the thing that influences on the way we look at other parts of the situation.

In Ethos method there are some important and famous questions that a seller should ask himself or herself. In this article we will review these questions again:

1: What kind of images or characteristics do you want to present to the buyer or your audience?

2: How can you help the flow of your speech to present the purpose image to the audience?

3: what are the things that you should avoid in regard to not damaging the purpose image of yourself in the transactional speech?

4: How can you avoid misspelled words and grammatical errors in your speech to have a better self -image? (Edlund, 2010)

Asking these questions is a helpful way to examine the use of Ethos technique in your presentation.

Smiling customer standing
Smiling customer standing

Emotion in Ethos, Pathos, Logos Technique

Pathos is defined as appeal to emotions and can be used in different ways that we review them in brief. You can promote positive and negative feeling to your audience. In Aristotle’s opinion you can use Pathos to persuade your audience and for this impression you have to make them feel kinds of emotions like happiness, compassion, nostalgia, anger etc.

You can transfer these feelings by the special tone of your voice or using a simple language to make a better connection between him or her. You can tell them some emotional stories that effect on their heart. Using Pathos technique is so functional but it is not easy. You should be so cautious because you are shooting at the audience’s emotions.

Another important note in Pathos function is using it in introduction and conclusion of your text of speech. The start and end of your speech is exactly the place that Pathos has the most effectiveness. You should persuade the audience during the presentation and end it up in the conclusion. (Persona Global Greece, 2017)

In using Pathos technique we should concentrate on some questions that we will talk about in below:

1: Does the presenter or maybe writer’s appeal to the emotions of the audience effects on their feelings and make them care about it? (Lutzke and Henggeler, 2009)

2: Describe and analyze this question: have you ever thought about using your emotions to persuade the buyer in an advertising presentation?

3: Do you examine it unfair to persuade people by impressing directly on their emotions?

4: Have you ever had such an experience and did you regret about it at the end?

One of the situations that speakers find Pathos so effective is in political situations because these situations have an emotional flow.

A common strategy for selling toothpaste, chewing gum, clothes and other tools is making people feel insecure about their social picture and attractiveness and it happens by using Pathos methods. (Edlund, 2010)

child refusing to eat his veggies
child refusing to eat his veggies

Logic in Ethos, Pathos, Logos Technique

The last persuasive technique in Aristotle’s statement is appeal to logic that we call it “Logos” in modes of persuasion (Ethos, Pathos, Logos). By logos you try to convince your audience by using reasonable and logical facts. It means that you should ensure them that you have found logical and reasonable facts about the topic. You should talk about the available evidence, historical data and facts in a way to persuade the buyer. (Persona Global Greece,2017)

When we want to apply Logos technique, we should ask some questions from ourselves that are shown below:

1: Is the speech clear and specific?

2: Are the explanations about our products in a well-reasoned order?

3: Do we have any available evidences to bring strong reasons and convince the buyer? (Lutzke and Henggeler, 2009)

We can use logos by different modes of thinking: comparison, Cause/effect thinking, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, exemplifications, elaboration and coherent thought. Now we want to clarify logos by a simple example.

Imagine a teacher that wants to persuade the students to do their homework. She/he can say that I know you have to do many things in your daily life but by doing your homework you can get a great mark at the end of your education and pass this phase.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Last Speech
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Speech


We have discussed about Ethos, Pathos, Logos to understand how to convince our audience and receive the best reflection from them in a way that is our purpose and the most functional way of convincing is using all of these 3 methods together. (Gagich and Zickel, 2017)



1. Edlund, J.R (2010) Ethos, Logos, Pathos: Three Ways to Persuade. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/lgarret/3waypers.htm

2. Gagich, M and Zickel, E (2017), Rhetorical Appeals: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos Defined , from https://pressbooks.ulib.csuohio.edu/csu-fyw-rhetoric/chapter/rhetorical-strategies-building-compelling-arguments/

3. Persona Global Greece, (2017), Ethos, Pathos, Logos: The three pillars of persuasive communication from https://www.personaglobal.gr/pathos-logos-the-three-pillars-of-persuasive-communication/

4. Lutzke, J and Henggeler, M (2009), The Rhetorical Triangle: Understanding and using logos, ethos and pathos, University writing center of Indiana University

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