Discuss the relationship between persuasion and attitude change- Elaboration Likelihood Model

Essay for 'Discuss the relationship between persuasion and attitude change’, Elaboration Likelihood Model

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`Discuss the relationship between persuasion and attitude change' 9 + 16
Elaboration Likelihood Model plan
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) suggests that there are two routes to persuasion
that can be used to change attitudes- the central route and the peripheral route. These are
often used in the media, such as in TV adverts. In the central route, the audience is motivated
to think about the message and focus on the quality of the arguments, therefore leading to a
lasting attitude change if the arguments are deemed to be sound. In the peripheral route,
the audience is not motivated to think deeply about the message- they focus on peripheral
factors, which may include the way the message is presented and the attractiveness of the
source, which then leads to a temporary attitude change.
People who have high motivation (e.g. if the message means something to them), and a high
need for cognition (NC) will be more likely to take the central route, as this would often
include factual information that can be thought about and analysed in detail. Those with low
motivation and a low NC are more likely to take the peripheral route. They are cognitive
misers- they do not want to spend as much time and effort considering issues or messages
that are not personally important to them, and they will not tend to process the information
in depth. The mood created by an advert may be more important in the persuasion of
cognitive misers than facts, and celebrity endorsement is also a common factor.
Haugtvedt at al found that attitude change in high NC individuals was based more on the
evaluation of a product's attributes in TV adverts than low NC individuals. People with low NC
had a greater attitude change from simple peripheral cues, i.e. mood and celebrity
Vidrine at al conducted also research into the ELM. 227 students were assessed for their
need for cognition and then exposed to either a fact based (central route) or emotion based
(peripheral route) smoking risk campaign. Students who were rated as having a high NC were
more likely to change their attitudes based on the factual message, and those with low NC
were more persuaded by the emotion based one. This research suggests that the ELM is
correct, as there was a difference between which routes high NC and low NC individuals are
more likely to be persuaded by. However, it is not known whether the attitude changes
were long or short term for either category, so the support this research gives the model is
limited. Furthermore, as the study was a field experiment there was a low level of control,
though it is high in ecological validity. There also is a risk of social desirability bias affecting
the participants' answers as the study used a self report technique, further weakening the
research support.


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