This model majorly focuses on how attitudes
are formed and changed through persuasion. In this study we discussed on the
tenets of elaboration likelihood model, its weaknesses as highlighted by
critics and practical examples how this communication theory can be used to
HISTORY OF ELM.
The model was developed by Richard E.
Petty and John T. Cacioppo in the 1980s. Elaboration Likelihood Model argues
that persuasion is a dual-process. Which takes a central and peripheral route. According
to this model, people choose to manage information either systematically or
heuristically. According to the theory’s developers, the model intended to
provide a general “framework for organizing, categorizing and understanding the
basic processes underlying the effectiveness of persuasive communications. The
study of attitudes and persuasion began as the central focus on social
psychology, featured in the work of psychologists Gordon Allport (1935) and
Edward Alsworth Ross (1908). Allport described attitudes as ”the most
distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology”.
Considerable research was devoted to the study of attitudes and persuasion from
the 1930s through the late 1970s. These studies embarked on various relevant
issues regarding attitudes and persuasion, such as consistency between
attitudes and behaviors and the processes underlying attitude/behavior
correspondence. However, Petty and Cacioppo noticed a major problem facing
attitude and persuasion researchers to the effect that there was minimal
agreement regarding “if, when, and how the traditional source, message,
recipient, and channel variables affected attitude change”. Noticing this
problem, Petty and Cacioppo developed the elaboration likelihood model as their
attempt to account for the differential persistence of communication-induced
attitude change. Petty and Cacioppo suggested that different empirical findings
and theories on attitude persistence could be viewed as stressing one of two
routes to persuasion which they presented in their elaboration likelihood
KEY ELEMENTS OF ELABORATION LIKELIHOOD MODEL.
Route of persuasion
This is the route in elaboration
likelihood model where an audience receives the information presented to them, thinks
about it critically and considers changing their attitude, way of thinking or behavior.
It is influenced mainly by their elaboration of the information presented to
them, understanding and consideration of the facts, ideas or content of the
message. The success of this route of persuasion is highly dependent on;
1) The motivation to think about the
message which is influenced by the receiver’s interest of the message.
2) The ability to think or elaborate the
message. Is the receiver capable of thinking or brainstorming on the message.
It is depended on the audience’s capability to think soundly.
Advantages of central route of persuasion
1) persuasion, attitude or behaviour change
resulting from central processing lasts longer. This is because there have been
sound or active involvement by the audience to elaborate the content of the
message before arriving to a point of attitude change.
2) The behaviour of the message receiver
route of persuasion
In this route of persuasion, the message
receiver is influenced by general impressions. These are inclusive of perceived
expertise, credibility, outward attractiveness, art of message presentation and
general appeal or appearance. Elaboration of the message is low. The audience
have very little interest or none at all and are not able to process the message.
Thus, easily swayed by external factors. In this case, the audience lacks in
motivation and ability unlike in the central route of persuasion. Message receivers
in this context are likely to be persuaded even before a presentation is made
because the presenter looks appealing or is considered of higher credibility. Change
of attitude or behaviour does not last long. Where there is need for the
listener to stick to their changed attitude, there would be need to reinforce
this decision making by frequent appearances or reminder by the source of the persuasion
APPLICATION OF ELABORATION
LIKELIHOOD MODEL (ELM).
the health sector.
ELM can be used in the
health sector to create awareness like on matters pertaining family planning. A
case of 2 women, Cara and Laura. Cara comes across information on various family
planning methods while visiting a relative of hers at the hospital. She gains
interest in the matter and even does further research on the same once she gets
home. After further research and analysis, she is persuaded to use ‘The pill’
as her choice of family planning method. In this case, she used the Central
Route of Persuasion.
On the other hand, Laura
who is not sure which family planning method to use, visits her long-time
friend to seek advice from her. Her friend informs her that she uses ‘the coil’
as her family planning method and it has turned out to be effective. Since
Laura trusts her friend a lot, she decides that she’s also going to start using
‘the coil’, just because her friend has persuaded her to do so, not putting in
mind that there might be side effects. In this case, she has used the
Peripheral Route of Persuasion.
Marketing and Advertising.
ELM can be used when an
organization is trying to persuade its prospective customers to purchase a certain
product or services. With ELM, Advertisers research on products and give vivid
descriptions on the use of such products to customers. In most cases, clients will
only use a product after in depth study of the product. The motivation to use
the product will only come after a keen analysis of the said product. I.e. its nutrients, composition and its side effects.
In this case, he embraces central route of persuasion. A perfect example is an
advert on body creams. However impressive an advert praises a body cream;
consumers need to have good knowledge on how compatible the cream is to their
skin. This is to mean that central route is the most applicable mode of
Peripheral route can come
in handy, when dealing with fashion and beverages to persuade consumers. With these
industries advertisers mostly use celebrities as brand ambassadors to influence
how prospective consumers associate with a product without a need to think any
further about it. For example, a cloth line with new trendy clothes will best
sell it new designs by having celebrities and video vixens use its product to
entice viewers about a new trend in town. Since celebrities set standards to
what is trendy and fashionable the market will swing with the wave to use the
trendy products without analyzing the effectiveness of the product. They are
persuaded to use the products by celebrities.
Elaboration likelihood model takes persuasion in only two angles; Central and
peripheral routes. We came up with three objective questions to understand the
scope of persuasion.
To what extent does ELM
What is the role of
experts in persuading individuals in attitude change?
What is the effectiveness
of ELM in enhancing persuasion in the field of advertising?
CRITICISM OF ELM.
Perloff R.M (2003) argues that the theory
has two main limitations: first, the theory fails to elaborate how messages can
influence people, resulting into them changing their minds. Second, he says that
most people’s thoughts are overridden by persuasive messages such that most
decisions they make are a result of ‘mental shortcuts’.
Gotlieb and Swan (1990), argue that
consumers lean towards affordability as a motivation to deal with a message but
very little evidence justifies the motivation level. Their argument also posits
that the ELM model does not adequately foresee the ‘dispute effects’ of the
Cole, Etterson, Reinke and Schrader (1990),
claim that the three experiments the ELM models were based on gave ‘conflicting
results’. This was because; some forms of advertisements used very limited
information compared to others. For example, billboards contained just a few
words compared to other forms such as TV commercials. In such cases, the ELM
model does not specify which the central route is and which the peripheral
From the above, it can be seen that the model
limits itself by looking at two approaches to persuasion, which is inadequate
when trying to determine internal stability and doubt in consumers of a