Rhetorical Analysis of Professional Article 

Categories: Literature


When it comes to writing or speaking, writers and speakers are trying to connect with their audience. Rhetorical strategies and rhetorical appeals are two of several techniques that authors or speakers can use in order to express their perceptions effectively. There are five rhetorical appeals that writers or speakers may apply when persuading their audiences. These consist of: logical appeals (logos), emotional appeals (pathos), ethical appeals (ethos), appropriate appeals (kairos), narrative appeals (mythos). Nevertheless, in order to productively organize their writing or speaking, writers and speakers ought to use one or more of these following methods: description (providing information) , narration ( telling stories), exemplification ( giving examples), etc.

These methods are called rhetorical strategies.

To illustrate how rhetorical strategies can be used effectively in writing or speaking, I will perform a rhetorical analysis of one article in my major, which is Justice Studies. I then study the rhetorical strategies and appeals that are used by the authors. Frank S Horvath and John E Reid wrote a document titled “The Reliability of Polygraph Examiner Diagnosis of Truth and Deception.

” Frank S. Horvath graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. Degree in Police Administration. In 1970, he became Chief Examiner at John E. Reid and Associates. He is a Charter Member of the American Polygraph Association and is a licensed polygraph examiner in the State of Illinois. John E. Reid graduated with a Bachelor of Laws at De Paul University and is a Director of John E. Reid and Associates. Reid has contributed several worthy works in the polygraph field.

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This is his fourth contribution in the field. The document was published in 1970 in the Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science by Northwestern University School of Law. The article was written to provide more information for audiences who are working and studying in the law enforcement field.

Reid and Horvath mention that even though, there is a lot of researche done in this field to prove that polygraph examiners can dependably decide truth and deception from the records alone; however, Reid and Horvath could not find one that was done in real – life testing. They point out that existing research consequently has little to no value in real-life situations to determine truth and deception. Therefore, their paper is provocative in the field of criminal investigation.

The main purpose of Reid and Horvath’s experiment is to prove to the audience that polygraph examiners can still reliability determine truth and deception in real -life testing compare to when they are in controlled situations. In the advance article, Reid and Horvath use rhetorical appeals of logos, ethos, and kairos.

Analysis of Rhetorical Appeals


Writers and speakers use logos to appeal to audience’s logic. Based on our LLD reader, writers and speakers can use “facts, case studies, statistics, experiments, logical reasoning, analogies, anecdotes, authority voice, ect.” to perform logos in their works. The article of Reid and Horvath is a professional work. It informs us with data and information to apply to our logical thinking.

An illustration of Reid and Horvath’s use of logos is the analytical tables of their experiment. In the first table – Innocent-Guilty Case Judgments, ten Polygraph examiners at John E. Reid and Associates were called upon to evaluate several Polygraph records “independently and without the benefit of any information beyond the polygraph records themselves.” To make the experiment be more realistic, Reid and Horvath mixed experienced and inexperienced Polygraph examiners together. According to the authors “Seven of the examiners had been engaged in Polygraph testing more than one year; the remain three were relatively inexperienced; they had been engaged in Polygraph testing from four to six months and were still participating in an internship training program.” As stated above, the audience can see that the authors were trying to make the experiment to be as fair and realistic as possible.

The authors also use percentage and numbers to make their analysis tables more understandable. The use of graphs and charts could confuse or distract the audience. By using numbers and percentages, the audience can easily understand what the authors want to express. For example, in table 1, the audience can clearly see that the percentage correct judgments from experienced examiners were slightly higher than inexperienced examiners. This comes very logical to our minds because if we won’t even work in that field, we can imagine that experienced examiners would perform better than inexperienced examiners. In the same table, the audience can notice that at the end of the Polygraph test, the total percent correct judgments of experienced examiners and inexperienced examiners were relatively close to 88%. The percentage clearly supports that Polygraph examiners can reliably detect truth and deception in real- life situations.


The use of ethos comes in place when the authors want to highlight their credibility, devotion, expert testimony, etc. According to the Rhetorical triangle in our LLD, the use of ethos gives the audience a feeling of writers or speakers as “fair, competent, and an authority figure”. Reid and Horvath are associated with the John E. Reid and Associates which is one of the biggest Institutes provides interrogation training programs for law-enforcement agencies in the USA. Nevertheless, Reid and Horvath graduated with Criminal Justices Degree and both work in the polygraph field.

Reid and Horvath mention that, even though, there is a lot of research done in this field to prove that polygraph examiners can dependably decide truth and deception from the records alone, but all of them were done in control environment. They could not find one that was conducted in real – life, so they decided to do ones. In the experiment, Reid and Horvath carefully read and eliminated any polygraph records which dramatically demonstrated of truth or deception. They also use five- channel Reid Polygraph instrument which is “widely used among for law-enforcement agencies in the USA” to record thoracic respiration, galvanic skin response, abdominal respiration, blood pressures- pulse rate. Because the authors had eliminated all factors that would impact the experiment. There would be less chance for bias or mistake happens.


Our course reader defines kairos as “opportune occasion for speech and writing. In order to attract audience, authors and speakers must present their works at an appropriate place and time. Reid and Horvath can apply kairos because polygraph tests are still used in employments and criminal investigations. The authors point out that “Unfortunately, the previous studies have little value in assessing the reliability of Polygraph examiner diagnosis in real-life situations.” This is correct in the US. There are several jobs that employers are allowed to use polygraph tests on employees. Some of these jobs are pharmacy, security firms, and law enforcement officers, etc.

In addition, polygraph tests are still widely in criminal investigations used by law enforcement. On this subject, Reid and Horvath state that “There was sufficient validity in these experiments to warrant confidence in the lie-detecting procedure as an aid to interrogation processes.” The authors’ article is therefore appropriate and supports to the debate as to whether or not Polygraph examiners can reliably detect truth and deception when it comes to real-life situations.

Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies


Reid and Horvath arrange their academy paper by using exemplification method. This technique helps to clarify and elaborate author’s idea. According to LLD course reader, the use of exemplification divines into three methods: express, inform, and persuade. Writers or speakers can these three purposes to interpret “definition, comparisons, processes, classification groupings, and causal relationships.” The inform method is what Reid and Horvath use in their paper.

The authors explain how questions are asked in the Polygraph test. They categorize the questions into three types: relevant, irrelevant, and control. Each type has its own specific function. For instance, in irrelevant questions, Reid and Horvath were explaining that these questions are irrelevant to the matter being investigated. These irrelevant questions are used for the purpose of establishing the normal pattern of responsive of the subject. In the control questions, the authors were describing that the response or lack of response from the subject to the control questions is then compare with what shows in the records when the subject is asked the questions that are relevant to the issue under investigation. By explaining the types of questions which are used in the experiment, the authors want to illustrate and elaborate their points to audience.


After performing a rhetorical analysis of Reid and Horvath’s article, I now realize the use of rhetorical strategies and appeals can help writing and speaking become effective. After reading the article, it is easy to concur with the outcome that the Polygraph examiners can accurately detect truth and deception in real-life testing. Reid and Horvath provide simple numbers and percentages which are easy to understand. They also conducted their paper at an appropriate time since Polygraph tests are still widely used in several jobs such as pharmacy, security firms, and law enforcement officers, etc. Moreover, by using exemplification method, Reid and Horvath were able to explain, illustrate and elaborate their points to audience.


  1. Alkire, D. (2014). LLD 100. Course Reader, San Jose, CA: Maple Press
  2. Frank S. Horvath and John E. Reid. (1971). The Reliability of Polygraph Examiner Diagnosis of Truth and Deception. Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science

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Rhetorical Analysis of Professional Article . (2021, Mar 17). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/rhetorical-analysis-of-professional-article-essay

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