The issue of happiness has become ubiquitous today, perhaps sparked by the proliferation of technology. This prompted us to think about our source of happiness – whether it is internally-based (Graves, 2017), or attained from interactions (Whippman, 2017). I believe that Graves’ article is more persuasive compared to that of Whippman’s because she adopted a more structured argument, neutral tone, and more legitimate evidence.
Firstly, Graves is more persuasive than Whippman due to displaying a more structured and coherent argument. Graves’ arguments were more structured as her paragraphs had clear topic sentences and headings, allowing the readers to follow her ideas easily. She used topic headings such as “Pursue meaning, not happiness” and “Make your brain a sunnier place”, allowing the audience to anticipate the following topic. (Graves, 2017). She then went on to quote the words of professionals like Susan David (David, 2018), and then further elaborated in her own words. On the other hand, Whippman lacked a clear structure as she rarely used distinct topic sentences to substantiate her arguments. This is evident when she started off a paragraph by describing trends such as how spiritual exercises have become increasingly “private” (Whippman, 2017, para 7). Comparing the flow of the two arguments, it is clear that Graves’ argument was more structured. In terms of coherence, Whippman seems focused with simply debunking the idea that happiness comes from within (Whippman, 2017), while in fact, from the title “Happiness is other people” (Whippman, 2017), her article should contain reasons on why social interactions are key to happiness. Yet, she had only provided one reason which was about a study shown that people need social interactions to be happy (Whippman, 2017, para 13). This shows poor use of logos and cause-and-effect analysis in Whippman’s arguments since her reasons provided were weak. Graves’ argument, thus, would be better understood by the audience, due to more coherence and structure, enhancing persuasiveness.
Moreover, Graves is more persuasive due to the neutral tone of her argument, by which is likely more objective, enhancing persuasiveness. Overall, Whippman’s article seems anecdotal in nature as she spoke from a first person’s point of view, using “I” and “we” (Whippman, 2017). Moreover, Whippman’s tone appeared to be critical and even mocking while Graves’ was more neutral. While Graves often offered encouraging advice on how innate happiness should be reinforced in a more positive tone, like “you can start making values-driven choices” (Graves, 2017, para 3), Whippman used harsh and judgmental phrases, like “full of anomalies and contradictions” (Whippman, 2017, para 12) to criticize Graves’ standpoint. Moreover, although both authors adopted the use of parentheses suggesting informality, Whippman used it to also inject disapproval. Her phrase “thought it was an ad for a nose-to-tail …” (Whippman, 2017, para 4), sounded like she was mocking the advice given by the self-help mail. While it can be argued that Whippman uses pathos in her tone to enhance persuasiveness, her emotions would likely appeal to steadfast skeptics of Graves’ view. In contrast, Graves’ would likely convince most open-minded general readers through her objective language used. Therefore, Graves’ article is more persuasive as her adoption of a neutral tone would result in greater objectivity in the eyes of the majority of the audience.
Lastly, Graves’ article is more persuasive as she provided clearer and more precise evidence, resulting in greater credibility. While both authors quoted studies, the studies quoted by Graves’ were more specific. For instance, when Graves’ claimed that leading a fulfilling life should be the focus instead of chasing after the idea of happiness (Graves, 2017, para 2), she referenced Susan David, a Ph.D. holder and an award-winning psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School (David, 2017). Quoting professionals like David would ensure accurate subject knowledge on the topic and increase the strength and reliability of her sources. Whippman, however, rarely quoted specific evidence on the studies she referred and resorted to the use of sweeping statements. Her sentences often started with “according to research” (Whippman, 2017, para 14) and “study after study” (Whippman, 2017, para 13), without specifying the author and type of research. She even committed the fallacy of “causation does not imply correlation” when she quoted ‘The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Time Use Survey (Whippman, 2017, para 9) to show that the search for happiness within oneself has caused Americans to spend less time on social activities (Whippman, 2017, para 8). Yet, she dismissed the possibility of other potential factors that could lead to a similar result. Therefore, Graves is more persuasive as her sources are more credible.
Overall, it is clear that both authors are using different writing styles to frame their arguments. Yet, Graves has done a better job of persuading the general audience through her structure and tone, coupled with legitimate sources.