Tag Archives: Actor Credibility

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos: Tools of Persuasion

Ethos Pathos Logos Chart

Aristotle coined the terms ethos, logos, and pathos as the three main tools of persuasion.

These are used in theatre, in literature, and beyond. As actors are learning various acting styles, techniques, and methods, they are introduced to these three modes of persuasion.

In theater,  persuasion is most effective through a person’s character: their ethics, their logic, their emotion, and their ability to sympathize.

An actor on stage has the responsibility of being believable or credible. Ethos, logos, and pathos are used to create a more authentic and credible personality.  To successfully persuade, actors have been looking upon these three appeals for quite some time. They are reliable methods that actors learn to use to their advantage. Read on to learn more about the three classic modes of persuasion.

Ethos: Appealing to Ethics

Ethos is the ethical appeal, and it means to convince an audience of the author’s credibility or character by showing a good sense of ethics. An actor would use ethos to prove to his audience that he’s credible and worth listening to by presenting their ethical opinions and making ethical decisions. 

If an actor was working on how to appeal to ethos, they may try studying their character out of rehearsal and off-stage. They may choose to make ethical decisions as their character would, and even dress frugally as their character would to better understand their character’s lifestyle.

Actor in Wig with Glasses and bandana

Logos: Appealing to Logic

Logos is the appeal to logic, meaning to convince the audience by using logic or reason. When appealing to logos, an actor may cite facts or statistics to prove their points. An actor may appeal to logos by presenting logical or well-rounded arguments, may cite important information, or may refer to historical analogies for explanations and proof.

Pathos: Appealing to Emotion

Pathos is the emotional appeal, meaning to convince an audience through appealing on emotional levels. Actors may attempt to evoke sympathy so the audience feels how the director intended for them to feel. Actors appealing to pathos aim to generate a certain emotion or response. Pathos can be expressed by actors through language, emotional tones, or emotional events/scenes.

These forms of persuasion help actors sell their characters immensely. Persuasion helps the audience to believe and understand the storyline and the overall dynamic of the production. Strong productions rely on the effective use of these persuasion techniques by the actors. By studying each form of persuasion, actors can learn how to better their styles and increase their overall credibility while on stage.

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