Theories and models of persuasion
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Theories and Models of Persuasion. ELM, HSM, and TRA. Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM). Two basic routes to persuasion Central route: is reflective, requires mental effort, relies on cognitive elaboration, thinking about, reflecting on a message

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Elaboration likelihood model elm
Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)

  • Two basic routes to persuasion

  • Central route: is reflective, requires mental effort, relies on cognitive elaboration, thinking about, reflecting on a message

    • Motivation (willingness) to process a message

    • Ability to process (understand) a message

  • Example: Babbs is car shopping. She looks up information comparing safety, reliability, performance, customer satisfaction, mileage, and depreciation for three makes of sporty cars.


Elm continued
ELM, continued

  • The Peripheral route: is reflexive, based on mental shortcuts, credibility, appearance cues, quantity of arguments

    • heuristic cues (decision rules): rules for simplifying the thought process

      • “Experts can be trusted,” “As seen on TV”

      • Source attractiveness (celebrity endorsements) “Brad Pitt is in the movie, so it has to be good.”

      • Perceived similarity: “I’ll study with her, she’s a Christian too.”



Alcohol ads and peripheral processing
Alcohol ads and peripheral processing

  • American children view 2,000 beer and wine commercials per year (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1995).

  • Beer advertisements are a significant predictor of adolescent preference for beer brands (Gentile, 2001).

  • 56% of students in grades 5-12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001).





Central or peripheral processing1
Central or peripheral processing?

  • Typical tobacco ad and two counter-ads advocating an anti-smoking message


Involvement and the elm
Involvement and the ELM

  • The role of involvement in the topic or issue:

    • high involvement increases the likelihood of central processing, e.g. message scrutiny

    • low involvement increases the likelihood of peripheral processing.

    • high involvement decreases reliance on credibility (peripheral cue)


Criticisms of the elm
Criticisms of the ELM

  • no accommodation for parallel (simultaneous) processing.

  • Stiff and others (Stiff, 1994; Stiff & Boster, 1987) have charged that the ELM is not falsifiable.

    • They claim the ELM can’t specify a priori whether a particular cue will be processed centrally or peripherally.

  • The operationalization of “strong” and “weak” arguments is tautological.

  • A limited range of topics or issues has been studied

  • Studies conducted by Petty & Cacioppo show stronger, more robust findings than studies conducted by others using the ELM (Stiff, 1994)


Heuristic systematic model
Heuristic-Systematic Model

  • Bears many similarities to the ELM

  • Two basic routes or modes of information processing

  • Systematic processing: more thoughtful, deliberate, analytical

    • Analogous to “central” processing in the ELM

  • Heuristic processing: more reflexive, automatic,

    • Analogous to “peripheral” processing in the ELM

    • relies on decision rules, e.g., always tip 15%

    • decision rules are activated under the appropriate circumstances


Is multitasking real
Is multitasking real?

  • Is information processing serial in nature?

    • reciting the alphabet

  • Can information processing occur on different levels? (hippocampus vs. parietal cortex)

    • knitting while talking

  • Is there true simultaneous processing, or simply rapid switching back and forth?

    • driving + cellphone

  • If simultaneous processing exists, does it exists for words? For images?

    • Processing to oral or written messages at once

    • Processing a written message and an image



Heuristic processing in pharmaceutical ads
Heuristic processing in pharmaceutical ads

  • A majority of ads for pharmaceutical manufacturers relied on emotional appeals to attract consumers


Heuristic cues must be
Heuristic cues must be:

  • Available: stored in memory for potential use

  • Accessible: activated from memory

  • Applicable: related to the receiver’s goals or objectives


Hsm continued
HSM, continued

  • Motivation and ability to process a message are key determinants in persuasion

  • Sufficiency principle: people don’t want to spend too much or too little time/effort making a decision

  • HSM allows for the possibility of simultaneous processing (both systematic and heuristic)

    • Example: Ned thinks Mini Coopers look really cool and, after doing some research, he finds they also perform well in NHTSA crash tests and have higher than average reliability.


Simultaneous processing
Simultaneous processing?

  • One’s initial reaction to this ad might be shock revulsion

  • If studies the ad further, one realizes it is an anti-animal cruelty ad

  • The initial shock value of the ad might cause a person to read further and figure out what the ad means.


Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

  • Developed by Fishbein & Ajzen in the 1970’s

  • TRA is a “rational” model of persuasion

    • Presumes people are rational decision makers

    • Presumes people make use of the information available to them

  • Behavior intentions are the best predictor of actual behavior



Illustration of the tra
Illustration of the TRA

  • Ned has been drinking heavily ever since he started college.

  • Attitude toward the behavior: “I think drinking is ruining my health and it caused me to get fired from my job”

  • Subjective Norm component: “I know my friends would like me to stop drinking”

  • Intention: “I intend to stop drinking altogether”

  • Behavior: Ned attends his first AA meeting the next day


Criticisms of the tra
Criticisms of the TRA

  • As its name suggests, the theory of reasoned action does not apply to habitual behavior that is not subject to conscious processing.

    • Even so, several tests of the model have been conducted with habitual behaviors (e.g., Kahle & Beatty, 1987).

  • the attitudinal and normative components are not conceptually distinct


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