Persuasion header image
The Nature of Attitudes and Persuasion

The Yale Approach

Congruity Theory

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Social Judgment/ Involvement Theory

Information Integration Theory

Theory of Reasoned Action

Elaboration Likelihood Model


Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)

Petty and Cacioppo's Elaboration Likelihood Model

Two "Routes" to Persuasion
Involvement and Cognitive Responses
Argument Quality
Argument Quantity
Source Factors
Evaluation of the ELM
Involvement and Cognitive Responses
Several factors influence the kind of thoughts that receivers are likely to have. Given the ELMís assumption that thoughts create persuasion, these factors must therefore influence attitude change. First, involvement and ability influence the amount of thoughts produced. The more a listener is involved in the topic -- the more that topic is salient, relevant, or important to the listener -- the more motivation that listener will have to think about the message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). This makes perfect sense: if a message is about a topic that matters to us, we have a reason (motivation) to pay attention to it and reflect on the ideas in that message. Of course, the less involvement in the topic, the less motivation to think about a message. However, motivation isnít enough to guarantee that central processing will occur. Receivers must also have the ability to think about the message. If they are distracted, or too tired, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or ill, they will not be able to think carefully about a message. Furthermore, if a message is difficult to understand (full of unfamiliar terms, confusing, spoken too fast, or with a thick accent), central processing is unlikely.

However, having thoughts isnít enough for persuasion to occur. Thinking unfavorable thoughts, disagreeing with the message, will not cause attitude change. One way to encourage favorable thoughts is to agree with your audience. If an audience likes a particular presidential candidate (or kind of car, or toothpaste), messages supporting that candidate (or that car or that brand of toothpaste) are more likely to create favorable thoughts. Messages for a different candidate (or car or toothpaste) are more likely to create unfavorable thoughts. However, persuaders usually cannot switch their topic to match the audienceís likes. You are hired to persuade people to vote for one candidate (or buy one care or one toothpaste).

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