Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Hoerl, Kristen, Mercedes Kolb, Ethan Gregerson, and William Butler, "Communicating Ethos at the Center," in Wendy Atkins-Sayre and Eunkyong L. Yook, eds., Communicating Advice: Peer Tutoring and Communication Practice (New York: Peter Lang, 2015), pp. 229–242.


Copyright © 2015 Peter Lang. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Tutoring center staff must communicate their credibility to effectively assist students. Ethos is a term used within the discipline of rhetoric to describe the process of demonstrating one’s good character and credibility. Based on the works of Aristotle, ethos is one of three devices or modes of argumentative support. Ethos refers to the character of the speaker, whereas logos concerns effective reasoning, and pathos relates to the use of emotional appeals. Although they are often considered separately, appeals to ethos, logos, and pathos may function collectively to persuade an audience. While a speaker’s prior reputation influences audience perceptions, the concept of ethos fundamentally concerns how speakers demonstrate their character through discourse. Like logos and pathos, ethos is constructed rhetorically through the process of interaction. Ethos is a matter of practical importance for tutors; in order to believe that a visit to a tutoring center is valuable, students need to believe that tutors are knowledgeable and trustworthy. In this chapter we describe different dimensions of ethos and explain how they might apply to peer tutoring centers, particularly for those that employ undergraduate tutors.