It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment!

Analyzing the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM).

Ali Cozzolino-Smith
3 min readFeb 6, 2022

I am someone who likes to look towards the future. Recently, I have been thinking about what I’ll be doing career wise after graduation. As an advertising and mass communication student, the obvious path would be a career in the media! I see myself as someone who creates content, writes stories, and is an expert in delivering media messages to an audience.

Credit: Island PR

Have you ever heard of the Elaboration Likelihood Model?

The Elaboration Likelihood Model attempts to explain how an audience’s attitudes are formed, and how the audience can be persuaded. This model analyzes how information is processed by an audience. There are two routes an audience member can take — either be central or peripheral route.

Credit: PowerSlides

Individuals interested in the topic and motivated by the media message are along the central route. These individuals process the information deeply. They get a real understanding of the message and can evaluate the information rationally. They care about the quality of the message received. They aren’t being swayed by outside influences.

On the flip side, individuals on the peripheral route are distracted, not interested in the information, and do not see the importance of the topic. They will not process the information deeply. These individuals are on the They’ll process everything the speaker says on shallow, surface level. Consciously, they are not evaluating the information. Subconscious aspects will influence their decision, such as observing what other people are doing, style of messaging, or their mood.

These routes to processing information exist on a sliding scale. It is possible to use both processes simultaneously. The ELM gives media professionals a starting point to assess how they can best persuade their audience.

The Highs and Lows of ELM

In Applied Mass Communication Theory, by Rosenberry and Vicker, it is said that the goal of crafting a persuasive appeal is to increase the motivation of the individual. You want them to take in that media message and think about it. This could be a short-term attitude change, like persuading an individual to donate to ASPCA after seeing a commercial that pulls on people’s heartstrings. Or a long-term change, like convincing someone to quit smoking through the Truth anti-smoking campaign.

Screenshot of a Tweet by Dr. Danna Young

If an individual is on the central route, they are highly involved in evaluating the information. They are considered “high” in elaboration. Here’s an example: I am working with a popular makeup brand to promote their new cosmetic line. If an audience member is on the market for a new eyeliner, pay attention to the price, benefits, and value the product will give them while they shop around. Including the information needed for an individual on the central route could change their attitude towards the brand and turn them into a lasting customer.

What if the individual is on the peripheral route? These individuals are considered “low” in elaboration. They form attitudes or switch up their decisions based on association. Let’s use the same makeup brand example. I want to change the attitude of the individual, who is not interested in trying a new cosmetic product. By hiring a popular celebrity like Charli D’Amelio to endorse the cosmetic line, it would catch the attention of someone on the peripheral route. Changing their attitude and resulting in the individual making a purchased.

Screenshot of @iscore5APpsych Twitter thread

How do you persuade your audience to change their attitude? Please contribute and share your thoughts on this discussion by commenting below!