How are you persuading your audience? A deep dive into the Elaboration Likelihood Model.

Kaitlin Sweyer
3 min readMay 30, 2022

The process of perception works differently in different individuals. Some perceptual differences include:

· Biological differences

· Cultural differences

· Different socializing environments

· Different education levels

· Different religious backgrounds

No two people perceive the world in the same way because no two people have had the same experiences (Rosenberry & Vicker, 2017, pg 70).

The elaboration likelihood model is a model that deals with attitude change and asks what happens during the message-processing part of the persuasion process. We can think of elaboration in how much conscious thought a person puts into making a decision. It states that there are two routes through which information is processed that can lead to attitudes being changed

1) The central route, where the information is actively processed, and the individual evaluates in a rational manner. The person puts careful evaluation into a decision.

2) The peripheral route, where the receiver does not actively process the information in a cognitive sense, but instead relies on peripheral cues, such as the style of the message, the credibility of the source, her own mood, etc. A person makes a decision without investing any real thinking time.

When deciding if a route becomes persuasive, it depends on several factors relating to an individual, starting with the degree of involvements (Rosenberry & Vicker, 2017, pg 74).

Explanation of the Elaboration Likelihood Model

Individuals are more likely to process with the central route they are involved with the subject and the information coming to them. If someone is looking for a new job, commercials about the upcoming job fair at the mall would get their attention. When a person is coming up with a persuasive strategy they should be aiming at changing attitude to increase people’s motivation to think about the message.

An example of the elaboration model where a company is targeting the peripheral route could be the Got Milk campaign. Someone who isn’t fully paying attention to the ad would have a lower level of elaboration, so they might be persuaded by seeing a favorite celebrity in this campaign, aka using the peripheral route. However, someone who is health-conscious might have a higher level of elaboration on this issue, so they might not find this ad especially convincing. This person may prefer an ad that focuses on the health benefits of drinking a certain brand of milk, aka the central route.

Got Milk? campaign

In conclusion, when it comes to using the elaboration likelihood model in persuasion techniques, the team should focus on whether they want to follow the peripheral route or the central route. Both have different levels of elaboration and it is important to be clear on which one a company is focusing on while coming up with a persuasion strategy.

Rosenberry, J., & Vicker, L. A. (2017). Applied Mass Communication theory: A guide for media practitioners. Routledge.