Examples of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos – What These Examples Mean

Many people remember Peyton Manning’s last press conference with the Indianapolis Colts.  Even if you were not a fan of him or the Colts, you could not help but feel bad for the man.  This is an example of pathos, and as we can see, it was very easy to be affected by a grown man crying and being as upset as Manning was.  You do not even need to be a sports fan to sympathize with Manning.  This just shows how effective pathos can be.

An example of ethos in society can be seen in any occasion where someone expects us to believe him or her simply because of his or her position of power.  Do we agree or disagree with the president simply because he is part of the party we agree or disagree with?  Because at that point, ethos turns into partisan politics, or the Halo Effect, as referenced in Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow.  Ethos can be extremely successful because of this.

However, what if you are listening to someone speak who just knows what he or she is saying? That should be the most important of the three types of public speakers.  If our society relies too much on pathos and ethos, it shows that we truly do not care what a person has to say – we care about how they say it, and their credentials that allowed them to say it.  Our society must run mainly because of logos: if facts are not right, you could be the nicest person in the world, or the most qualified, but you will still not succeed.  We need to recognize that from the standpoint of civilization as a whole.  Why should we have leaders that are not as knowledgeable as they should be?

It is important to discuss the implications and consequences of valuing a leader differently depending on the qualities he or she has.  As I described in my most recent blog post, if logos is thought of as the most important, a consequence is that we live in a society that values reasoning.  Meanwhile, if pathos is thought of as important, we live in a society that values emotion.  It can be seen that emotion can cause irrational decisions to be made.  However, emotion can also be used to make the choice that matters most to us, not just the choice that might make the most sense.  If ethos is thought of as important, we live in a society that values sense perception.  Sense perception is quite often thought of as an initial response that lacks quality, however, oftentimes going with one’s gut feeling is the best choice.  All this does is show us is that we can all think that a different pillar is more important at different times.  This is why they are called the three pillars of public speaking – one pillar does not hold up the roof by itself, you need three pillars to support all audiences.  Overall, it can be seen that it truly depends on the person and the time as to which pillar they might find most important, and that there is not a definite answer as to which pillar is the most important.  This is why public speakers are advised to have build all of these traits.


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