Persuasion: Elaboration Likelihood Method (ELM)
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One of the more interesting and useful theories regarding how people are influenced is the Elaboration Likelihood Method (ELM). It describes the conditions under which a person may tend to think carefully and critically about a message, or whether the person may be unduly influenced by unrelated factors. In brief, this theory suggests that when people are sufficiently motivated, have the ability, and are not distracted, they will think more elaboratively about an argument. When they are not motivated, have less ability, or are distracted they may take the easy way out by being influenced by unrelated factors such as the attractiveness and confidence of the presenter, rate of speech, and other associations. By considering the characteristics of your audience, this theory provides guidance in how you present an argument.


  • Quick overview--
  • ELM outline and comments--
  • ELM explanation & model--

  • Examples
    How advertising works on the Web-- modified ELM

    A simplified model of ELM is shown below, showing the two branches (central and peripheral routes) for thyinking about being persuaded.
    A more comprehensive model of ELM is shown below.

    Some people have a greater tolerance and need for complex ideas, and are motivated to seek additional information and think critically about it. The Need for Cognition Scale reflects this characteristic. The higher the need for cognition (to be a "reasonable and reasoning person"), the greater the chance of central route processing.