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  • Ethos refers to the credibility of a speaker and is composed of three dimensions: competence, trustworthiness, and dynamism. Speakers develop ethos by being prepared, citing credible research, presenting information in a nonmanipulative way, and using engaging delivery techniques.
  • Logos refers to the reasoning or logic of an argument. Speakers appeal to logos by presenting factual objective information, using sound reasoning, and avoiding logical fallacies.
  • Pathos refers to emotional appeals. Speakers appeal to pathos by using vivid language, including personal stories, and using figurative language.
  • Cognitive dissonance refers to the mental discomfort that results from new information clashing with currently held beliefs, attitudes, or values. Cognitive dissonance may lead a person to be persuaded, but there are other ways that people may cope with dissonance, such as by discrediting the speaker, seeking out alternative information, avoiding sources of dissonance, or reinterpreting the information.
  • Speakers can combine positive and negative motivation with appeals to safety, social, or self-esteem needs in order to persuade.


  1. Ethos, or credibility, is composed of three dimensions: competence, trustworthiness, and dynamism. Of those dimensions, which is most important for you when judging someone’s credibility and why?
  2. Recount a time when you experienced cognitive dissonance. What was the new information and what did it clash with? What coping strategies, of the ones discussed in the chapter, did you use to try to restore cognitive balance?
  3. How ethical do you think it is for a speaker to rely on fear appeals? When do fear appeals cross the line?
  4. Imagine that you will be delivering a persuasive speech to a group of prospective students considering attending your school. What could you say that would appeal to their safety needs? Their social needs? Their self-esteem needs?

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