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AREA 2 D Argumentation and Logic E 59

Emotional Appeals

Appeal to Audience (Flattery)
§§§ D

Appeal to Audience (or Flattery) — inflating the audience’s ego in order to solicit a
favorable response.

Writers and speakers encourage their audiences to identify with them and gain their
trust, which is essential for others to accept another person’s ideas. However, when
authors strive only to gain support by molding their words and deeds to fit public
opinion, then they are merely pandering or condescending to us for their own personal
gain. Ask critical questions to recognize the purposes of an author’s use of emotions:
Should we trust others because they tell us that we are their friends?

Do we listen more closely to others who we find attractive?

Aren’t most “pick-up” lines just forms of superficial flattery intended to gain something
(e.g., a relationship or sexual conquest)?

Similarly, speakers also resort to flattery to gain one’s political support. Kind words,
handshakes, and flag-waving might win the heart of some, but the audience needs to
ask, “Where is the substance behind the dazzle?” The writer may make us feel pleased
with our selves, our possessions, our achievements, and our heritage. These authors
suggest that they are “on our side,” but they may only intend to cater to our smugness,
self-satisfaction, or pride. There must be more to an argument than simply “puffing
up” the audience.


1. Politician #1: “You and I are just plain folks. We understand
each other, and we ain’t gonna let them fool us!”

2. Politician #2: “America is the greatest country in the world,
and Americans are the most generous. Now show that great
American generosity with a small contribution to my cause ….”

In these examples, Americans may feel a closer identity with the politician, but what do
the people really know about him? What are his intentions? The phrase “flattery gets
you nowhere” could apply here. If we falsely associate a good feeling that someone
gives us with the speaker’s real intentions, then we might be relegating ourselves to

Ad populum is the original Latin term. urging citizens to “jump on the bandwagon” — or join the crowd — to vote for them. and most of us can be attracted to strong.60 D Argumentation and Logic E AREA 2 Politicians. advertisers. making it an appealing statistic. Although Americans like to think of themselves as “rugged individuals. meaning “to the people. charismatic leaders who make us feel wanted or important.” we are often easily seduced by ideas endorsed by popular culture and the mass media that prey upon our desires to belong to a herd. One doesn’t gain anything without some price or consequence. Bandwagon appeals are arguments that urge people to follow the same paths that others do. Never forget that flatterers are always selling something … and we are their customers. Gleem. being that their jobs depend on them. politicians used to travel literally on horse-drawn bandwagons. or risk losing all those free toothbrushes? How many pollsters bothered to ask doctors who were known to prefer Colgate. However. “Because everyone else does it” is a favorite reason cited by young teens who are looking for reasons to do something that their parents might not condone. EXAMPLE 1 A TV Ad from the 1970’s and 1980’s: “Four out of five dentists surveyed preferred Crest toothpaste over other leading brands. or other brands? CONTINTUED . we should ask some critical questions to “read behind the numbers”: How many dentists surveyed were known to be advocates of Crest before they were surveyed? How do we know that these doctors weren’t under some contract with Crest and felt obligated to rank that brand #1. Bandwagon Appeal (Argumentum ad Populum) §§§ D DE D EFFFIIIN E NIIIT N TIIIO T ON O N N Bandwagon Appeal — the belief that something should be done because the majority of people do it (or wish to do it).” suggesting that a person yields his opinion to the will of the public majority rather than to logic. In old- time political campaigns. Peer pressure is a type of bandwagon appeal — you may do something that others are doing simply because others are doing it. and salesmen are often the most vocal culprits of using such schemes.” This classic TV ad campaign pushes the popularity of Crest amongst dentists. People can be like sheep.

” This ad implies that Zippo brand cigarette lighters are the American standard. Unfortunately. at great cost savings to the manufacturer. zealousness or jingoism can conflict with rational thinking. Clearly. So. Why do we pay these prices? Often because “everyone else does. but many of our goods are stamped with “Made in USA” when they really are assembled in Southeast Asia and shipped back to the States. Reebok was a stylish footwear choice. but with enough investigation. We all look for opportunities to blend in with other Americans over a shared value. then we all should too. but foolish Americans paid an exorbitant amount for shoes that were worth considerably less in material cost. for instance. or tradition.$95 at Foot Locker in my local mall. Some companies sell stock that is marked up 500 times the real value of these shares. like Marlboro and the Dallas Cowboys (dubbed “America’s Team”). buying American products helps the American economy.” This mentality has contributed significantly to the 2000-2002 stock market deflation by making the “bubble” too big to sustain. the same shoes were selling for $75 . however. tells us that we need a better reason than peer pressure or popularity. and were identical in quality. but 90% of new companies fail by their first year. We will never know these answers. Of course. In 1982. My father used to fly to Korea on business trips a few times every year. Would you overpay for your car 30 times over? Is this “fashion sense?” Many investors also pay these same outrageous premiums when we invest in the stock market. The Zippo company’s warrant is this: If everyone else is buying this brand. is this statement a guarantee of quality? Hardly. AREA 2 D Argumentation and Logic E 61 Advertisers who urge consumers to buy “the brand that's number one” are using bandwagon appeal.S. will never admit in their ads that you may very well die in that very car you desire to drive). FOR YOUR INFORMATION Just because something is manufactured in America does not mean that it is better. so quality of specific products can be volatile. He would often bring back Reebok sneakers that he purchased in Seoul for $3 in some street market — legally. Appeals to patriotism are also forms of the bandwagon effect. Americans are #1 in many areas of business. the truth could be uncovered. The company selling its product wants it to appeal to people’s desires. symbol. For this reason. . Logic. (An automotive company. We also pay the price for fashion. At the time. of A. we must question the logic of most ads and sales pitches. They would take on a significant financial risk if they were to warn their consumers of minor problems or complaints about their product. EXAMPLE 2 Radio Ad: “Zippo — the grand old lighter that’s made right here in the good old U. This statement essentially asks the consumers to use Crest “because everybody says so” — the same argument that parents often give their children when they have no sound argument to offer.

” This type of advertisement implies that this car dealership is the best dealership. does that mean that they have the best prices. so why can’t I?” Besides being a rhetorical question and an example of moral equivalence. Since every individual has free will and is responsible for her own decisions. The consumers are likely to associate “number one” with “the best. EXAMPLE 4 Radio Ad: “Jackson Ford is the Number One Ford Dealership in the Southeast Region. customer service. or are they not aware that there never were any chaperones? This suspicious statement needs to be clarified before most parents would agree. Again. but this erroneous thinking is emotional. .) Could their popularity be explained simply because they have the best location.” where citizens try to justify their actions by citing the actions of others (legal or otherwise). we cannot assume that the decisions of others are valid. EXAMPLE 5 Your teenage daughter asks: “Everyone else is camping overnight without chaperones.) This example also falls under the equivocation fallacy because the term “number one” is vague. or the funniest commercial? (They might hire the worst salespeople. However.” My mom would ask here. There may be strength in numbers (and even comfort). and not grounded in logic. ask some critical questions: If they were the number one dealership in sales. this faulty reasoning assumes that what is appropriate for others must be appropriate for me. In extreme cases. What is the real situation here? Do the other parents simply not care about their children’s well being. the biggest billboard.” although these phrases can be misleading. but offer a popular product. This statement is also an example of the moral equivalence fallacy. this type of reasoning is foolish and often dangerous. and it implies blind trust and confidence — a very dangerous assumption.62 D Argumentation and Logic E AREA 2 EXAMPLE 3 A Poor Patriot: “It’s alright for me to cheat on my taxes because everyone else does it. or expertise? (Answer: Not necessarily. would you do it too?” Following the leader is only reasonable when the leader is reasonable. the bandwagon effect can create a type of “mob rule. “If everyone else jumped off a bridge.

fallacious reasoning. and strength). EXAMPLE 1 A labor union boss speaks: “This proposed law is unfair to labor. people may react violently if laws do not favor certain individuals or groups.” Although the law may indeed by biased against labor workers. not the first (at least according to logic …). and places it onto the negative consequences of not accepting the argument involuntarily. each speaker suggests that the threat of force is sufficient to accept the claim. FOR YOUR INFORMATION Extortion. and sexual harassment are all examples of threats. but the threat of force (in the form of strikes. power. An appeal force is just another name for a threat. The use of justifiable force (such as a military response) should always be the last resort. or physical violence) does not validate the argument. The unions are angry and threaten a strike if this law is passed. so it cannot be a logical means of settling an argument (which is a matter of the mind. people resort to force when they know they have already been defeated (therefore. Threats (be they verbal or physical) are cowardly substitutes for valid arguments. Violence does not involve logic. 3. so a strike is always a possibility – it doesn’t need to be overtly mentioned (especially early in the labor negotiations). blackmail. violence may be their only recourse) or when they fear being defeated (and therefore resorting to their most powerful weapons — control. This is.” CONTINTUED . True. threatening action against the law's passing does not make the argument logical. Often. AREA 2 D Argumentation and Logic E 63 Appeal to Force (Argumentum ad Bacculum) §§§ D DE D EFFFIIIN E NIIIT N TIIIO T ON O N N Appeal to Force – using force to gain a favorable response. A threat diverts the reader’s attention away from the real issue. EXAMPLES 2. In the following examples. not the body). intimidation. or be sure that you have you hospital insurance paid up. and therefore should be defeated. and 4 A loan shark says: “Pay back the loan and 10% daily interest by Thursday. of course. lawsuits. Management (the labor union’s opponent) already understands that the union members outnumber them.

Scare tactics often work in real life. Such tactics can also be unfairly used to magnify existing (and sometimes legitimate) fears into panic or prejudice. If we base these conclusions primarily on fear. then we have committed a logical fallacy. This may explain why many people fear flying. he’ll change your welfare benefits. That money could have been used to help the family more tangibly (e. heart bypass surgery. It is the essence of demagoguery to reduce complicated issues to threats or to exaggerate a possible danger well beyond its statistical likelihood. but are coerced conclusions.” Leader of Political Party X asserts: “Every member of this political party must choose between supporting my economic policies — or getting the political blackball. college tuition.).. EXAMPLE 1 A rabid liberal sympathizer shouts: “If this man gets elected. Don’t let those Washington bureaucrats tinker with your food stamps!” CONTINTUED . The audience is supposed to use its own logic to draw obvious negative conclusions. in light of statistical evidence that proves it to be the safest form of vehicular transportation.64 D Argumentation and Logic E AREA 2 A pompous lawmaker blurts: “Any scientist or research group that doesn't support my Clean Test Tube Initiative cannot expect to receive any further federal funds supporting their research.” Scare Tactics §§§ D DE D EFFFIIIN E NIIIT N TIIIO T ON O N N Scare Tactics — coercing a favorable response by preying upon the audience’s fears. etc. The possibility of nuclear war in the 1950s encouraged millions of Americans to spend over $20. Instead of threatening a consequence onto a person. with only a mere suggestion of causality. however.g. perhaps because some people can more easily imagine the bloody details of a dire consequence than rationalizing the remoteness of its possible occurrence. Scare tactics are not direct threats. This is dangerous — people often believe their own faulty logic because we feel that we can trust our own decisions (simply because they belong to us). scare tactics highlight the possible negative outcomes to the extreme.000 of today’s money on back yard bomb shelters so their family could “survive” a nuclear war (and the 100-year nuclear winter that would follow).

or bereavement often use these emotions excessively to distract the audience from the facts. nor clarified the real effects of various drugs. EXAMPLE 2 Anti-drug TV commercial: “This is your brain. . opening the door to prejudice or rash thinking. and its quest noble. since the objects being compared and associated are not analogous — my brain is not a chicken egg.” This campaign was recently deemed unsuccessful by an independent study. This example also qualifies as a false analogy. Will I “fry” if I take aspirin or my doctor’s prescription too? The terms “drug” and “fried” are too vague to be educational (which means that the equivocation fallacy is also at work here). These appeals are often aimed directly at the individual’s emotions — the guilt. Without the details to substantiate this argument. Thousands of American politicians have been elected because they effectively (and unfairly) convinced their constituents that their opponents should be feared (not just defeated). or remorse that someone feels encourages him to act out of sympathy. The appeal is strictly emotional. Every year. suggesting that trying any drug will sear your brain juices to the point of evaporation. Arguments that use pity. so it works (a little). scare tactics do not incorporate any real evidence or key details that might place the attack in a more balanced focus. pity. AREA 2 D Argumentation and Logic E 65 Usually. This campaign was relentless. audience fear quickly fills the void. billions of American dollars are collected by organizations that use this very appeal. but the image produces an emotional reaction. representing one’s brain being “fried. grief. How exactly does the candidate plan to alter these welfare benefits? Perhaps he actually plans on increasing them. if it distracts from the real issue. The ad never offered a direct. and no drug will heat it past the boiling point. yet it ran for years on youth-oriented programming. even though his opponent’s propaganda might suggest otherwise. This is your brain on drugs. These are drugs. such as MTV. Any questions?” This classic TV ad showed an egg frying in a blackened pan. logical reason to abstain from drug use. Appeal to Pity (Sympathetic Appeal) (Argumentum ad Misericordiam) §§§ D DE D EFFFIIIN E NIIIT N TIIIO T ON O N N Appeal to Pity — preying upon the audience’s sympathy to solicit a favorable response. or if it appears to conceal another purpose. You can identify a fallacious appeal if it is irrelevant to the argument. but the argument presented in this commercial was clearly invalid.

and often serves as a red herring to distract voters from an otherwise uninspired campaign or candidate. or is some organization trying to take advantage of emotional people? The ad really states that the starving people of the world are deserving of your contribution due to your pity. The pitiful situation itself has questionable newsworthiness. especially attracting those who watch out of a sense of pity. Bob Dole will be remembered as one of our greatest Presidents. Watching a live rescue attempt on the six o’clock news might help a network’s ratings. Daddy” affect us where we humans are the weakest — our hearts (emotions).” Giving to charity is an action of great beneficence. CONTINTUED . not the fact that they do not have enough to eat.. When used properly as illustrations of logical arguments. Jr. Candidates must prove themselves worthy by passing reasonable laws and accounting for them. If the scene is used to convey a moral (such as the dangers of playing with matches) then the emotion will be used more effectively by the author. Anyone who uses television to communicate a message has the greatest potential to use raw emotion in place of validated conclusions. He was wounded in World War II and fought back from paralysis to become the nation’s second-longest-running Senator. EXAMPLE 1 A campaign promoter says: “If elected. Kennedy.” This is a true story. the tears of a crying child who did not get the toy she wanted at the store can weaken the wills of even the strongest parents. then undergoing two grueling years of physical therapy. However. Enclosed is a contribution form” [and it includes a picture of a starving Third World boy with a bleak desert background]. but cries of “please.66 D Argumentation and Logic E AREA 2 FOR YOUR INFORMATION To be fair about emotions. his physical attributes have essentially nothing to do with his governing skills. However. we must not forget that humans are emotional beings and need to use them. sentimental images and appeals are highly effective and quite legitimate. please. Television news often appeals first to pity. Serving one’s country is a popular slant used in political ad campaigns. which lures viewers into watching the broadcast (more viewers = more revenue). The classic image of the young John F. not by showing off their war injuries. EXAMPLE 2 A charity flyer states: “Donate to the needy. We all should admire Senator Dole for overcoming his terrible injuries while serving his country. saluting his slain father’s casket stirs powerful feelings in most Americans who lived in the 1960s. Look how emotion affects the message in the following examples. but shouldn’t the fact that millions of children are starving to death every year be enough to convince us to contribute to charitable organizations? Are these deathly images thrust in our faces because we don’t contribute enough. Research tells us that parents must not spoil their kids.

transferring it onto what will be gained by accepting the disputed point of view. but really intend to victimize charitable This appeal encourages a person to do something in order to gain some reward (rather than losing something). we should donate our time and resources to improve our world.bbb. and bribery. Young children cannot really understand that one doesn’t “get something for nothing. Appeal to Reward §§§ D DE D EFFFIIIN E NIIIT N TIIIO T ON O N N Appeal to Reward — using a reward to tempt the audience into a favorable response. however. Of course. We need to be aware of criminals. . and it is very noble to do so. NOTE: Research any charities that you wish to assist by calling the Better Business Bureau (a more logical option than an emotional reaction — http://www. FOR YOUR INFORMATION Examples of this appeal include buying votes. An appeal to reward is the opposite of a threat. AREA 2 D Argumentation and Logic E 67 Should pity be the prime reason to take action? Sometimes yes.” NOTE: in children’s minds. people are arrested and convicted for operating multi-million dollar false charity rackets.) ☺ HOW TO DO THIS Ask critical questions when something seems too good to be true: Where does all of the money go? Doesn’t someone make a salary by taking some of the contributions? Don’t these organizations have bills to pay? Due to high overhead (or straight-up theft) some charitable organizations donate less than 10% of their proceeds to the actual cause. without a doubt. FOR YOUR INFORMATION Children are especially susceptible to this fallacy because they often cannot comprehend consequences or recognize the down sides and risk factors involved in their decisions. Better decisions are made. trading favors. Such appeals divert attention away from the main issue. Kidnappers prey upon the naïveté of these children by luring unsuspecting children into their cars with promises of candy or cute puppies. who pose as charitable organizations. (Every year. however. when the heart and the mind both agree on the action. they continually believe that they receive something for nothing — this is apparently the way their world has always operated.

. but ironically makes psychological sense. The resulting conclusions become mere claims without merit. I promise to cut your taxes. and worthwhile to the participant. but would place no effort at all in an assignment worth 100 points. The arguer must show evidence when connecting premises with conclusions to avoid making this error. often the product of an emotional reaction. provided that the rewards are obvious.. suggests that people are motivated by rewards (or perceived rewards). again. Cutting taxes could cut public money for important projects. Hasty Generalization (Jumping to Conclusions) §§§ D DE D EFFFIIIN E NIIIT N TIIIO T ON O N N Hasty Generalization — a conclusion formed without evidence. This appeal to reward is often overgeneralized by the speaker.” Tax breaks are always nice . EXAMPLE 2 A novice teacher says: “If you turn your essay in on time. law enforcement. such as roads and bridges. . but not reward (that only happens after receiving a good grade). Personally. but everything that exists has a trade-off.68 D Argumentation and Logic E AREA 2 EXAMPLE 1 A candidate says: “If elected. cutting taxes might be the least important issue facing the public. The reason. A hasty generalization involves an overreaction to one occurrence that is grafted onto the entire group. easy. however.” Teachers love wielding their swords of reward and punishment. because political budgets do not focus on simply one issue in realty. often in the form of grades. The fact that this teacher feels obligated to offer “extra” credit for simply fulfilling an assignment expectation is unreasonable logically. they tend to listen more carefully. I’ll give you extra credit. and public schools. I have always been amazed at how hard some students will work for one scrawny point of extra credit. yet can suddenly become the number one focus of your local politician who chooses to use this tactic. It is the reverse of the logic used in a stereotype — a person makes a hasty generalization when he implies that all things in one group must share the traits of this one individual from the group (the reverse of a stereotype). They feel relief. Often. healthcare. More thoughtful individuals will seek to understand the other sides of the arguments before committing to a conclusion. Many students do not view submitting an assignment on time as a rewarding experience. When people know that they are going to be getting some money or credit. these arguments are usually nothing more than carrots dangling before starry-eyed followers.

Some Ford models do have a track record of needing repairs (remember the Pinto or the Tempo?). not from hasty overreactions. Liquor should be banned. men can also be bad drivers. We are always wiser in hindsight.” Sure. Of course. and that this one drunk man is really representative of most people. but each car has unique differences that makes it deviate from the norm (either for the better or for the worse). An argument to ban liquor can easily be made by pointing to evidence suggesting that most people will (at one time or another) drink to excess and endanger their lives or the lives of others. Should we ban cars as well because some people abuse their privileges? Should we ban handguns because a few innocent victims get caught in crossfire? Let’s not be too hasty! EXAMPLE 2 A frustrated Ford owner says: “My car broke down today! Fords are worthless pieces of garbage!” Every batch of new cars will contain a “lemon. We may recognize an isolated problem (one female driver cut you off on the freeway) but leap backwards from the conclusion to the premise to establish the reason: “All women are bad drivers. To suggest prohibition because of one victim falls into the reverse stereotype again — the characteristics of one intoxicated individual do not necessarily transfer to everybody else.” To assume that her status as a woman is the reason for her questionable driving skills is a stereotype. AREA 2 D Argumentation and Logic E 69 FOR YOUR INFORMATION Hasty generalizations are also similar to false cause fallacies because people often think “backwards” incorrectly. but most probably can be let out of the house now and then! Conclusions should be drawn from valid evidence. One bad date can cause the following response: “All men are jerks. so give yourself time to draw sensible and thoughtful conclusions.” One abusive person should not ruin the participation of law-abiding citizens in legal activities. making a conclusion based on one example is dangerous. some men don’t behave properly. and this allows a person an opportunity to reflect back on an event with greater perspective and emotional detachment. EXAMPLE 1 A concerned citizen says: “That man is an alcoholic. The speaker needs to prove that human nature leads us to drinking or other risky behaviors. I hate all men. .” When we unfortunately purchase a bad vehicle. This hasty generalization is probably the most prevalent of all the fallacies discussed. we can easy overgeneralize the traits of this car onto the other cars on the lot. Although most people might say that they will never buy the product again. Time usually heals most wounds.