Appeal to Emotion

Definitions of Appeal to Emotion

An appeal to emotion is when someone tries to get you to agree with them by making you feel a certain way, rather than using real reasons or evidence. It’s like when a friend tells you a sad story about their pet to get you to agree to watch it over the weekend, even though you may not have the time.

Another way to understand appeal to emotion is to think of it as a trick where someone tries to tap into our feelings to get us to make a choice or hold a belief. Imagine someone telling you that everyone who cares about the environment uses a special kind of toothpaste, hoping that your care for the environment will make you want to buy that toothpaste, even if it’s not any better for the environment than other kinds.

Examples of the Appeal to Emotion Fallacy

Example in Media

Beer commercials that show cool and happy-looking people are using appeal to emotion. They make you feel like if you drink that beer, you could be as happy or as cool as them. But the commercial isn’t giving real reasons why that beer might be better or healthier, it’s just trying to make you want that feeling of being cool or attractive.

Why is this an example?: It’s an appeal to emotion because it plays on your desires to fit in and be well-liked, rather than giving you facts about the beer itself.

Example in Charity Advertising

The ASPCA commercials with sad music and images are designed to make you feel pity and sadness. They want those feelings to make you donate money. The commercials don’t give you detailed reasons about how the ASPCA uses donations or its effectiveness, they just make you feel sorry for the animals and hope that feeling will cause you to donate.

Why is this an example?: It’s an appeal to emotion because it uses sadness to persuade you to donate rather than information about the cause or how your donation helps.

How to Avoid an Appeal to Emotion Fallacy

Most of us use our feelings to make choices, which can be fine in many personal situations. But when it comes to buying things or deciding who to vote for, our emotions can be used against us. Companies and politicians may try to manipulate our feelings to benefit themselves. To resist this, always ask yourself why you are making a decision – is it because of strong facts or just strong feelings? Try to base your choices on evidence and logic, and you’ll make wiser decisions.

Related Topics

  • Logical Fallacies: These are errors in reasoning that weaken arguments. They distract from the truth and may make bad ideas seem good if people aren’t careful.
  • Critical Thinking: This is when you think carefully about something, analyzing all parts of it before making a judgment. It helps you not to be tricked by appeals to emotion.
  • Rhetorical Strategies: These are ways people use language to persuade others. Appeals to emotion are one kind of rhetorical strategy, but there are many others that try to persuade with logic and evidence.
  • Argumentation: The process of discussing, creating, and examining arguments. Knowing about appeals to emotion helps you understand and create stronger arguments.


In conclusion, an appeal to emotion is when someone tries to get us to agree with them by making us feel certain emotions instead of giving us solid reasons. We see this in ads and can even hear it from friends or politicians. It’s important to recognize when our feelings might be clouding our judgment so that we can make decisions that are really best for us. This means asking yourself why you feel the way you do and looking for the facts before you act. By doing so, we become better at spotting these appeals to emotion and protecting ourselves from being influenced by them without good reason.