Central vs Peripheral Routes of Persuasion: understanding the elaboration likelihood model

Marketing Dept., | 10 min read
Marketing Dept., | 10 min read

What is the Elaboration Likelihood model?

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) describes two primary routes of persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route. Central route persuasion occurs when individuals are presented with complex information requiring significant cognitive processing to evaluate the arguments, as seen in central route persuasion examples like detailed scientific presentations in pharmaceutical advertising. This method is particularly effective when the audience is motivated and able to understand and critically engage with the message, aligning with insights from the Yale attitude change approach, which also highlights the importance of the source's credibility and the message's structure in persuasion. Peripheral route of persuasion are influenced by external cues rather than the substance of the message. These cues can include the attractiveness or credibility of the speaker, the emotional appeal of the message, the number of arguments presented (regardless of their quality), or even the reaction of others to the message. This route is typically engaged when the audience is either not motivated to think deeply about the message or lacks the ability to do so due to limited knowledge or distraction.

Examples of Peripheral and Central Routes Persuasion

For example, in advertising pharmaceutical products, the central route persuasion is employed through detailed scientific arguments that focus on the strength and quality of the evidence regarding the drug's efficacy.  While advertisements often rely on the peripheral route of persuasion by using celebrity endorsements, appealing music, vivid imagery, and repetitive messaging to influence viewers’ attitudes and behaviors without requiring them to consider complex arguments. This route can be particularly effective when decisions are relatively trivial or when the audience is not inclined to analyze information critically.

Comparing Central vs Peripheral Routes of Persuasion

While the central route involves deep cognitive processing, the peripheral route to persuasion leverages superficial cues. A peripheral route persuasion example might be a celebrity endorsement in an advertisement, where changes in attitude occur due to the celebrity's popularity rather than the actual benefits of the product, highlighting the difference between central vs peripheral route of persuasion.

What are the four main elements of persuasion?

The context, such as the personal relevance of the message or the audience’s cognitive capacity, determines whether the central or peripheral route of persuasion is more likely to be activated. High involvement and motivation typically steer individuals towards the central route, while lower engagement or complexity might lead to reliance on the peripheral route. Here are the four main elements of persuasion:

  1. Source (Credibility): A credible source, characterized by trustworthiness, expertise, and likability, significantly impacts how the message is received. Example: An expert doctor giving health advice is more likely to be persuasive than a non-expert.

  2. Message (Content): The content of the message, including clarity, logic, and emotional appeal, plays a crucial role in persuasion. Example: A well-researched advertisement for a product that highlights its benefits and features with supporting data.

  3. Audience (Receiver): The characteristics of the audience, such as pre-existing attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, and level of involvement, affect how they receive and process the message. Example: An environmental campaign targeted at individuals who are already concerned about climate change is likely to be more effective.

  4. Channel (Medium): The channel through which the message is delivered can influence its effectiveness. Example: Using social media to reach a younger audience with an interactive and engaging campaign.

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JoVE.com offers educational videos that elucidate the central route of persuasion, with visual and accessible examples that enhance learning for students and professionals interested in persuasive communication techniques. 

Routes of persuasion central and peripheral routes 

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Understanding the central route of persuasion, alongside the peripheral route, offers invaluable insights into how attitudes are shaped in different scenarios. JOVE.com's resources assist in exploring these persuasive routes, ensuring a thorough grasp of effective communication strategies.

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