The Aristotle model of communication is a linear model with a focus on public speaking. The Aristotle model of communication was developed by the Greek philosopher and orator Aristotle, who proposed the linear model to demonstrate the importance of the speaker and their audience during communication. It comprises three key elements: Ethos (the speaker’s degree of credibility or authority), Pathos (the ability of the speaker to form an emotional bond with the audience), and Logos (the literal meaning of the word logos is logic).
Understanding the Aristotle model of communication
The Aristotle model of communication was developed by the Greek philosopher and orator Aristotle, who proposed the linear model to demonstrate the importance of the speaker and their audience during communication.
Despite its ancient origins, the Aristotle model of communication will always be relevant since public speaking is an evergreen skill that is always in demand. Public speakers today must be able to persuade or convince their audiences, something Aristotle called rhetoric.
To achieve this, the speaker organizes the speech before delivering it according to the audience and the situation at hand. This makes the Aristotle model both linear and speaker-centric, with the audience taking on a passive role in the communication process. Indeed, while the audience can be influenced by the speaker, the model does not account for the audience interacting with the speaker via feedback.
The five components of the Aristotle model of communication
The Aristotle model of communication comprises five key components:
The individual tasked with persuading or convincing an audience through their speech. In theory, this is achieved through careful word selection, appropriate body language, eye contact, and verbal modulation.
The message the speaker is delivering to the audience. The speaker delivers a speech to accomplish their objective.
The people who passively listen to the speech as it is delivered but who are impacted by it in some way.
The positive or negative consequences of the speech that depends on the persuasiveness of the speaker.
The situation or context responsible for bringing people together and the reason why communication occurs.
When a politician speaks to a group of people, for example, the occasion may be an imminent election.
The three elements of a good public speaker
Given that the model is focused on the speaker, Aristotle also described three elements that must be present in a good communicator or orator.
Ethos relates to the speaker’s credibility, authority, or character. A speaker with none of these will not be trusted by the audience – no matter how noble their intentions. Ethos can be bolstered by using appropriate language and referencing information from competent and trusted experts.
Other speakers may introduce the message with a brief biography or personal history. They may also utilize a certain voice, tone, vocabulary, or gesture to reinforce their knowledge or expertise about a topic.
For speakers, it is important to note that proper use of ethos requires an understanding of the audience. What is it that they need to hear to trust the speaker? What details are the most relevant to position the speaker as relatable and credible?
Companies that use celebrity endorsements to advertise their products or services make use of ethos. Think Oprah Winfrey and Weight Watchers, Michael Jordan and Nike, or actor Matthew McConaughey’s collaboration with carmaker Lincoln.
In each example, the company leverages the celebrity speaker’s reputation to increase the status of the product or service. This strategy works well since consumers believe celebrities possess certain values that the brand also wants to be associated with.
Pathos is the ability of the speaker to form an emotional bond with the audience. Speakers who connect with the emotional environment of the room build trust and become more persuasive. It is derived from the Greek word for suffering, experience, or emotion.
To build pathos, the speaker can incorporate visual materials that invoke appropriate emotions. They can also begin the talk with a story demonstrating their knowledge or experience of the pertinent emotional issues.
Aristotle believed the speaker could form almost any emotion in the audience simply by their choice of words. This can be achieved by constant awareness of three factors:
- The audience’s frame of mind.
- How emotions vary from one person to the next, and
- The influence the speaker has on the audience.
Pathos is commonly seen in advertisements such as Coca-Cola’s Taste the Feeling campaigns.
There is emotion in the slogan itself, but in each commercial, the consumer is presented with a scene depicting young, happy, exuberant people who enjoy life.
Scenes are accompanied by buoyant music, bright colors, and an energetic and convivial atmosphere that reflects the personalities of the actors.
Coca-Cola implies that if the consumer wants to be one of the happy people in their advertisement, they should buy one of its beverages. Pathos is the best choice in this situation because the other methods of persuasion are less effective.
Logos falls flat because there are few (if any) logical reasons to drink sugar-laden cola. Ethos may be more effective than logos, but ultimately, consumers care less about the company’s values than they do the product itself.
The direct ancestor of logos is the English word logic. In the context of Aristotle’s model, however, logos refers to how factual evidence is used during communication to support assertions. The act of drawing conclusions from facts is called inductive reasoning.
Communication can also encompass deductive reasoning which involves starting with a hypothesis and then confirming it with logical reasoning.
No matter which form of reasoning is used, it is important the speaker uses data, facts, or statistics to form a strong argument and convince the audience.
A message with logos should be able to stand on its own two feet, so to speak. The argument itself does not require the speaker to be charismatic or emotive, but it is acknowledged that they may be required to make “dry” facts or information more interesting.
A city councilor that claims crime rates rose under the previous administration must be able support their claims with relevant and accurate data.. The most skilled communicators will also use logos to examine and prepare for possible counterarguments.
Aristotle vs. transactional model of communication
Whereas Aristotle’s communication model focuses on public speaking by relating it to five core elements: speaker, speech, audience, effect, and occasion.
Based on three elements of a proper communication style: ethos, pathos, and logos.
The transactional model of communication is highly contextual, and it focuses on three specific contexts: relational (interpersonal history and type of relationship a person has with another person), cultural, and social.
Thus the difference between the transactional model of communication stands in the way it conceptualizes the flow of information and allows for context with respect to Aristotle’s model of communication.
Aristotle’s model of communication and Lasswell’s model of communication
Similar to Aristotle’s communication model, the Lasswell communication model is a linear communication model.
The five elements of the Lasswell model comprise:
Aristotle’s model of communication and Berlo’s model
Similar to Aristotle’s communication model, Berlo’s communication model is a linear communication model based on four main components and phases:
Aristotle’s model of communication examples
Interested in learning how Aristotle’s model of communication applies the modern contexts? If so, we have listed some examples below.
When a political candidate is up for election, they deliver speeches to their constituency to obtain as many votes as possible and emerge as the winner.
The occasion mentioned in Aristotle’s model of communication is an election in this case, and the politician’s speech is made to compel the audience to respond in the manner that they intend.
To secure votes, the politician may promise new critical new infrastructure or show their support for an important local issue.
They may also use storytelling as a persuasive tool, informing the constituency that they grew up in the area, attended the local university, and are passionate about improving community safety and access to services.
While this happens, the audience passively listens to the information that is communicated and depending on how persuasive it was, votes for the politician (a positive effect) or chooses another candidate (a negative effect).
When an automaker advertises on commercial television, the occasion is the release of a new off-road model that offers superior performance and seven seats.
Alternatively, the occasion may simply be that a target audience of people is watching television at the same time on a Monday evening.
The individual who provides the voice-over for the ad is the speaker who tries to convince the audience to take action and purchase a specific model.
The audience may be particularly passive in this example since most viewers are simply watching their favorite movie or TV show and are not in the market for a new vehicle.
However, some members of the audience will be interested in an off-road model that can also seat their whole family.
If the company has done its research, it will know that families watch television at certain times of the week and will touch on important pain points around safety and performance in their advertising campaigns.
For the automaker, a positive effect occurs when a TV viewer decides to visit one of their dealerships and place an order.
In a more traditional example of Aristotle’s model of communication, consider the fireside chats delivered by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and 40s.
The fireside chats were a series of evening radio speeches on issues like the economic recovery from the Great Depression and, in later years, updates on the course of the Second World War.
These were the occasions that brought people together.
Roosevelt (the speaker) also used radio to quash rumors, counter conservative rhetoric in newspapers, and explain his policies in ways the average American could understand (the audience).
His speeches were delivered with a tone and demeanor that communicated confidence and self-assuredness to citizens (the effect) in what was an uncertain period in history.
Aristotle model of communication examples in business
In this example, consider a scenario where an entrepreneur is pitching their business idea to several representatives of a venture capital firm.
The entrepreneur is responsible for persuading or convincing the representatives of the merits of their business idea.
This starts with body language that projects confidence in the idea and verbal modulation that keeps the audience interested and engaged with the content.
It is also important that the entrepreneur is knowledgeable about the business, industry, or topic they wish to enter.
The speech is the message the speaker is delivering to the audience. Since the entrepreneur has a pitch deck already crafted, their speech revolves around topics like:
- The clear problem the product or service solves.
- The size of the market and any potential competitors.
- Growth models, and
- Evidence that the start-up can achieve its objectives.
In addition, the speech focuses on product or service benefits (not features) and clarifies financial projects over three, six, and twelve months.
To maximize the persuasiveness of the entrepreneur’s speech, these elements should strike the correct balance between the plausibility and high-growth potential of the business idea.
The occasion that brings people together is that the entrepreneur is seeking to secure capital and make their vision a reality.
The audience who listens to the entrepreneur as they put their case forward is the representatives of the VC firm.
Let’s assume that the effect in this example is positive. In other words, the entrepreneur has sold the merits of their idea with confidence and verifiable data. They also:
- Have the talent necessary to achieve success, and
- Have identified a product or service that is beneficial to customers in an underserved market segment
How To Leverage Aristotle’s model For Entrepreneurs
Remember that the three elements of ethos, pathos, and logos are essential ingredients of successful communication.
How might they apply to this example?
This is the characteristic that makes the entrepreneur credible. Since they have founded two successful start-ups in the past and from a similar industry, the VC reps see them as more credible.
The emotional effect of the entrepreneur and their message on the audience.
Through prior research, the entrepreneur learns that two of the VC reps are former start-up founders themselves and thus understand the emotional turmoil associated with starting a new company.
When the entrepreneur pitches their idea with passion, enthusiasm, optimism, and a touch of trepidation, the audience connects with these emotions via shared experience.
One VC employee, having been there before, finds the entrepreneur’s message impactful, motivational, and inspirational.
The other, who has experience in the same industry and understands its unique pitfalls, sees the entrepreneur as more authentic, credible, and aware of the most important issues.
Logic is also important in this example since the entrepreneur needs to underpin their business idea with logic and rationality.
Data and other forms of evidence are vital since they confirm the idea is achievable, cohesive, realistic, unique, balanced, unbiased, and able to produce tangible or measurable outcomes.
- The Aristotle model of communication is a linear model with a focus on public speaking. It was developed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle to produce more effective public speakers.
- The Aristotle model of communication is a linear and speaker-centric model with no scope for the audience to provide feedback. There are five basic components, including speaker, speech, audience, effect, and occasion.
- The Aristotle model of communication also details how speakers can become more persuasive. Speakers must be credible, authoritative, and be able to form an emotional connection with the audience. They must also support their statements with facts and, where necessary, engage in counter-arguments.
Read Next: Lasswell Communication Model, Linear Model Of Communication.
What is Aristotle model of communication examples?
Some examples of Aristotle’s model of communication comprise:
What are the five main components of Aristotle's model of communication?
What are the three elements present in Aristotle communication model?
Given that the model is focused on the speaker, Aristotle also described three elements that must be present in a good communicator or orator: Ethos (the speaker’s degree of credibility or authority), Pathos (the ability of the speaker to form an emotional bond with the audience), Logos (the literal meaning of the word logos is logic).
What is the advantage of Aristotle's model of communication?
Connected Communication Models
Aristotle’s Model of Communication
Helical Model of Communication