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Stephanie Trinh . Carolann Rogers . Chad SteinerShellie Switzer . Lauren von Stroheim . Dylan Vroom















Overview

What is the elaboration likelihood model? - What is this theory trying to explain? - What is the difference between central route and peripheral route?

The art of persuasion has remained a topic of immense interest in the field of consumer behavior. Prior to the contemporary assessment of persuasion, analysis of consumer attitude change was determined by the ability of a person’s learning capacity. Initial theories were confined to a simplistic cause and effect condition, which disregarded the possibility that by merely learning the content of a given ad message there stands a good chance a consumer may not be persuaded by it. Additionally, the recipient can be persuaded by an appealing ad message without having paid any attention at all. Based on experimental research developed by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo in the 1980’s, social scientists found that people do in fact play an active role in the persuasion process. Today, the Elaboration Likelihood Model is the most acknowledged theory utilized in creating effective persuasive messages designed to influence consumer attitude change.

The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) is a model in which receivers are viewed as active participants in the persuasion process. It was developed to understand how persuasive messages might lead to attitude changes (Belch & Belch, 167). The model is a function of two elements, motivation and ability. A receiver needs motivation to process the message, such as involvement and personal relevance, and the ability to process the message, such as knowledge and intellectual capacity (Belch & Belch 167). Under the ELM, there are two routes to persuasion, the central route or the peripheral route. The level of a participant’s involvement and their ability to actively evaluate the message determines which route the receiver will use.

The central route to persuasion involves active participation in which the receiver is thoughtfully evaluating the argument and its message. The receiver is highly involved and has the ability to process and critically analyze the message content. “A high level of cognitive response activity or processing occurs, and the [message’s] ability to persuade the receiver depends primarily on the receiver’s evaluation of the quality of the arguments presented” (Belch & Belch, 167). These receivers are critical thinkers and any resulting attitude changes are relatively enduring thus impacting behavior.

Alternatively, the peripheral route to persuasion involves those receivers who are less engaged in the message and who lack the motivation to process the message. These receivers use peripheral cues, or simple heuristics to evaluate the message (Belch & Belch, 169). These peripheral cues might include a likeable or expert endorser, a distinct product differentiation, or a visually appealing message. These attitude changes are somewhat temporary and need to be reassured through message repetition (Belch & Belch, 170).

Belch, G. & Belch M. (2009). Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

centralvsperipheral.jpg
Provided by: http://eden.rutgers.edu/


Concepts
Motivation for Elaboration: People need the topic to have some relevance or interest in order for the person to begin the Elaboration process. In other words, if the topic has no importance, the elaboration will not occur. The mind has the ability to let those less important ideas/topics to flow through the mind without testing them.

Ability to Elaborate: This relates to the physical ability that someone has in order to analyze an argument. Things that effect the ability to think about a message include: loud noise, other pressing issues, stress etc.

Elaboration: This is an attempt to rationalize some kind of persuasive communication by testing it in order to deem in as true or false information.

Elaboration Continuum:
Low Thinking
High Thinking
Low personal relevance
High personal relevance
High distraction
Low distraction
Low accountability
High accountability
Low reputation
High reputation
Low knowledge
High knowledge
Low need for cognition
High need for cognition
("The Elaboration Likelihood Model," n.d.)

Central Route (High end of the continuum): This is the main process for deciphering information and it requires great thought on the argument and the message. "It is a slower, deliberative, high-effort mode of information processing that uses systematic reasoning," (Larson, 2010).

Example: After listening to a political debate you choose to vote for a candidate because you agreed with what they had to say and found their arguments and views on the subjects convincing ("Central Route and Peripheral Route," n.d.).

Peripheral Route (Low end of the continuum): This is a shortcut to accept or reject a message. It requires less thought to come to a decision and relies on cues in order to make a decision. It may also rely on "simple classical conditioning, or the use of mental shortcuts of rules of thumb," (Larson, 2010).

Example: After listening to a political debate you choose to vote for a candidate because you like the way they are dressed or the sound of their voice, or because they went to the same school as you etc ("Central Route and Peripheral Route," n.d.).

Accepting the Argument:
  • Strong argument: if a strong argument is made when challenged and produces a favorable acceptance, then the argument will predict future behavior and will have a lasting effect
  • Weak argument: if a weak argument is made when challenged it will create an unfavorable response and will be rejected.

Sources:

Petty, R. The Elaboration Likelihood Model: Understanding Behavior Change. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/presentations_1/PDFs/petty_presentations.pdf

Central Route and Peripheral Route to Persuasion. Psychology and Society. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://www.psychologyandsociety.com/routestopersuasion.html

Larson, C. Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility (2010). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.



How the ELM has Changed over Time

The Elaboration Likelihood Model has only been around since the 1980's and the concepts have pretty much remained unchanged over the years. What has changed has been who has used the model and how they have used it. In the beginning Petty and Cacioppo developed the ELM to simply explain how people are persuaded by communications such as advertisements. Since then the theory has blossomed into a universally accepted learning tool for crafting persuasive advertisements and marketing campaigns. Using the ELM, marketers attempt to create messages that will persuade consumers based on either their central or peripheral route. Consumers are usually not motivated to use their central route of persuasion when viewing ads for low-involvement products for example. Therefore, "marketers of low-involvement products often rely on creative tactics that emphasize peripheral cues and use repetitive advertising to create and maintain favorable attitudes toward their brand," (Belch & Belch, 170). The ELM has become extremely useful as more brands have emerged and intense competition calls for ads to be carefully crafted in order to gain consumers' attention.

Belch, G. & Belch M. (2009). Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Examples

Ad_For_SocPsy.jpg
Provided by: www.soc-psych.blogspot.com




Central Route
This is an ad promoting a contest for bathroom media advertising. We use the central route when processing this advertisement because we see a painted toilet and the ad stating, "shit happens", so it catches our attention and we put two and two together: toilet + "shit happens" = haha, very funny. But we had to put some thought into that. As you continue analyzing the ad, you see that it is a contest, which means that it requires you to use your brain for creativity and thought to win the contest. The picture on the toilet is a head with the seat up which indicates that if you open your mind a little, you never know, "shit happens" and you just might come up with a brilliant idea and win.








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Provided by: www.advertolog.com




Peripheral Route
This Wonderbra advertisement uses the peripheral route because it requires very little thought to be able to persuade you. You look at the ad, you look at the girl, you read what it says and you buy the bra because it makes her look good and you want to look that good. Her attractiveness is the cue that persuaded you to make a decision for whether you want the product or not.










Current State of the Theory

Although only about 20 years old, the Elaboration Likelihood Model holds numerous evidence and support that can be found in psychology and marketing researches and databases. Of the majority support for the ELM, the current theory places tremendous effort in concentrating on the function of personal association as an intermediary to influencing the persuasion of the product market. The function of the elaboration likelihood model is based on the anatomy of the mind, using logic or the existence of past knowledge and/or experiences.

Whether we research how humor affects student learning or how model attractiveness and product relevance is effective in advertising, the ELM theory continually receives confirmation and still holds to be true today. Correspondingly, the ELM will help us to move forward with many new developments in research. For example, it can help us in digesting the process in which people use to make their everyday purchases or it could help us further understand the progression of student learning – all of which we may find to be tremendously helpful in the long run.


Sample Studies

Investigating Initial Trust Toward E-tailers from the Elaboration Likelihood Perspective

Summary by: Lauren von Stroheim

In the article, Investigating Initial Trust Toward E-tailers from the Elaboration Likelihood Perspective, authors Shu-ChenYang, Wan-Chiao Hung, Kai Sung, and Cheng-Kiang Farn examine trust formation and assurance established in Internet shopping through the use of the elaboration likelihood model (ELM). Because there is an element of uncertainty in Internet shopping, the authors wanted to test consumer perception of e-tailers trustworthiness and product information quality in the consumer’s decision to purchase from the e-tailer. The authors conducted a 160-person laboratory experiment to test five hypotheses with three dependent variables and two moderators.

The elaboration likelihood model was used, “in order to explicate how an individual deals with various persuasive appeals, suggesting that the cognitive effort a person devotes to processing an argument depends on his or her likelihood of elaboration” (431). There are two routes a person can use in evaluating and processing an argument: central or peripheral route. The central route is for those individuals who are highly involved in the argument and with the ability to process and evaluate the argument. These individuals use central cues, such as product attributes, differentiations, and superiorities to motivate their attitude changes. On the other hand, the peripheral route is for those individuals lacking motivation to process the argument and who thus use simple heuristic cues, celebrity endorsers, professional third-party seals, and the message itself, to make their decision.

Before establishing parameters for the experiment, the authors examined trust and its relevance for high and low involved consumers. The authors distinguish between trusting beliefs and trusting intentions in the development of a relationship between an e-tailer and consumer. The authors write, “Trusting beliefs are induced by the characteristics and actions of the trustee and can be referred to as perceived trustworthiness,” they include “competence, benevolence, integrity, and predictability exhibited by Web vendors” (432). Similarly, the authors describe trusting intentions as, “the willingness to depend on the trustee despite a high possibility of loss and [known] as willingness to be vulnerable,” including such things as, “the consumer’s willingness to depend on and the subjective profitability of depending on the Web vendors when making a transaction” (432). Accordingly, higher trusting beliefs will lead to positive trusting intentions further promoting positive interactions and sales between the consumer and e-tailer. Trait anxiety also affects the persuasion process and is known as a consumer’s processing ability. Low trait anxiety is associated with those consumers with high product involvement while high trait anxiety is coupled with consumers with low product involvement (435).

The authors then established five hypotheses to test the scenarios in which consumers use the peripheral route against the central route and vice versa. The hypotheses are as follows:
  • H1: The display of trustworthy third-party seals positively affects consumer’s assurance perception toward an e-tailer (433).
  • H2: Consumer’ assurance perception positively affects their trust toward an e-tailer (433).
  • H3: Product information quality positively affects consumer’s perceived result demonstrability about shopping on a Web site (434).
  • H4: Consumers’ perceived result demonstrability about shopping on the target Web site positively affects their trust toward an e-tailer (434).
  • H5: A consumer’s routes to Web-site trust formation are moderated by his product involvement and trait anxiety (435).
  • H5(a): A consumer with low product involvement or high trait anxiety develops his trust via the peripheral route of Web-site trust formation (435).
  • H5(b): A consumer with high product involvement and low trait anxiety develops his trust via the central route of Web-site trust formation (435).

The experiment was ready to be conducted. The authors developed four Web sites that looked identical aside from individual manipulations on each including third-party seals, a FLASH advertisement, and product information quality. The respondents reported their involvement with Web cameras (the Web site product being used) and were then randomly assigned to one of the four Web sites, each with a different manipulation. The respondents then filled out a questionnaire measuring assurance perception, result demonstrability, trust toward an e-tailer, product involvement, and trait anxiety (438).

The resulting data revealed of the 160 respondents, “seventy fell into the high-involvement and low trait anxiety group and 90 respondents were placed in the low-involvement or high trait anxiety group” (439). To test hypothesis five, the researchers used the above groups with t tests and found the two groups were significantly different thus proving both H5(a) and H5(b). Multiple linear regression analyses were performed revealing that hypothesis one through four were all statistically significant; third-party seals and product information quality positively affect consumer perceptions and result demonstrability, respectively. The authors write, “Overall, the findings strongly support the claims that Web design, including display of third-party seals and product information quality, are helpful in Web-site trust formation” (441-442).

The authors note a few managerial implications resulting from the study. First, while third-party seals can be effective in developing trust, the consumer needs to be familiar with the accredited seal and the placement of such seals needs to be conspicuous. Second, in regards to providing product information, it needs to be clear, relevant, and simple. Third, it is important to adapt each argument for the specific audience based on their level of involvement and trust anxiety (442). There are also a few limitations presented by the study; first, the sample is not representative because it was limited to students and cannot be generalized; second, because only one product was used, Web camera, the results were restricted and should thus be further examined; third, “only one peripheral cue and one central cue were chosen…further studies should be conducted to explore other cues” (443).

Overall, the experimental study was successful and the use of the ELM enabled the authors to establish boundaries in which to study the results. As mentioned, there were a few implications and limitations resulting from the experiment, but the authors, and readers and e-tailers, now have a better understanding of how enhanced Web sites can build trust and product assurance in the hopes to ultimately boost sales. The experiment advanced the ELM by further implicating the explicit use of persuasion through either the central or peripheral route. It was statistically proven that based on certain criteria, and the consumers level of involvement, the receiver chose one route over the other. The authors also noted the level of trait anxiety as a contributing factor to which persuasive route a consumer chose; further advancing the elaboration likelihood model and it’s relevant use to e-tailers.

Yang, S., Hung, W., Sung, K., & Farn, C. (2006). Investigating initial trust toward e-tailers from the elaboration likelihood model perspective. Psychology & Marketing, 23(5), 429-445. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.


The Effects of Online Reviews on Purchasing Intention: The Moderating Role of Need for Cognition

Summary by: Shellie Switzer

One interesting study sheds light on the effectiveness of online reviews as a persuasive tool employed by online shoppers, implements the elaboration likelihood model analyzing how consumers utilize information provided online in making a purchase. The findings suggest that first, quality of online reviews transfer positively to the consumer in making purchase decisions; additionally the quantity of reviews for a given product can illuminate a positive association with the desired product. In terms of the elaboration likelihood model, it was found that online consumers that assert a high need for cognition take the central route of persuasion, while those with low cognition assume the peripheral route.

Consumer behavior and the Internet has become a most viable area of study for companies seeking to optimize online marketing strategies in an effective manner. The staggering amount of products available alongside the overabundance of advertisements has caused consumers to loose trust in advertising; in effect word of mouth has become the premiere source for gaining information. Online customer reviews can truly make or break a company to the extent that the quantity/quality of the evaluation is noted to be an accurate predictor in determining a company’s future success. The purpose of the study was conducted in order to gauge the level of consumer involvement in deciphering the route to persuasion based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model. Researchers discovered that the quality of online reviews, in terms of language used and facts pertaining to product usage, contained a higher level of persuasion than those in which the consumer resorted to an emotional/personal interpretation.

The elaboration likelihood model states that in order for an attitude change to occur, the consumer precedes on either the central or peripheral route to persuasion. Meaning that if the individual has the ability to think in-depth or critically about the argument of the message presented, forming his/her own argument based upon the information given, then he/she will embark on the central route to persuasion. Alternatively, if the individual does not partake in cognitive analysis then that individual will proceed on the peripheral route to persuasion. The model suggests that two factors, motivation and ability, play a role in the likelihood of elaboration. In reference to this study in particular, researchers were interested on individuals “need for cognition” which is determined by personality and situational factors. Two hypothesizes were formulated in order to explain the ELM model as it relates to consumers perception of online reviews. The first hypothesis states that individuals who encompass a high need for cognition are persuaded more by the quality over quantity of online reviews. On the other hand, individuals who contain a low need for cognition are more influenced by the quantity of reviews for a given product/service.

In order to test the above hypotheses an online shopping mall was created in which featured a cell phone as the focal product category. A sample size of 293 participants was selected to partake in the study. The shopping mall website contained information regarding features of the cell phone, a photo of the product and a variation of online customer reviews. The participants were given 15 minutes to analyze the product and after were presented with a questionnaire aimed to reveal purchasing intention based upon the online reviews presented (varying in quantity and quality). Statistical tests were conducted in which validated the pre-conceived hypothesis concerning the level of cogitation of the individual cross referenced to whether that individual is persuaded more by quality or quantity of online reviews.

In conclusion of the study, three main findings emerged. First, researchers found that reviews of high quality transferred positive association of the product thus the individual developed a higher purchasing intention. Secondly, the volume of online reviews available subsequently had a positive effect on buyers purchasing intentions. From a buyer’s perspective, the more reviews available for a certain product the more the perspective buyer believes that product to be popular. Finally, consumers possessing high levels of cognition are moved more by the quality of an online review and will thus take the central route of manipulating attitude change. These findings reveal that the ELM model still holds true; online consumers are characterized by their level of cognition which will determine whether they will take either the central or peripheral route to persuasion.

This study is most relevant in today’s technologically advanced society; the way in which advertisements communicate with prospective consumers is far from traditional, the Internet has changed the communication process between advertiser and consumer. Given the results of the study, the ELM model holds true, yet the most interesting aspect exposed that consumers are more influenced by what others have determined about a product, rather than then the advertisement itself. Studies such as this are extremely important in communicating effectively in a dynamic environment; it provides insight to the application of the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a useful tool in digesting the process in which people make their everyday purchasing decisions.


Chin-Lung, L., Sheng-Hsien, L., & Der-Juinn, H. (2011). The Effects of Online Reviews on Purchasing Intention: The Moderating Role of Need for Cognition. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 39(1), 71-78. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.


The mediating effects of perception and emotion: Digital signage in mall atmospherics
Summary by: Dylan Vroom

Everyone has their own way of perceiving things. Researchers are still trying to figure out the “mechanisms by which people perceive stimuli and convert those perceptions into actions” (205). In this study, researchers set out to find some of the mechanisms by which a stimulus can change consumers’ perceptions and increase their emotions. The specific purpose of the study was to find out “how mall managers can manipulate stimuli using an exemplar stimulus to increase consumers’ ‘approach’ behaviors” (205). These approach behaviors can include spending behavior, likelihood of returning to the store in the future, and the number of future visits. The stimulus used in the study was digital signage, also known as a digital communications network (DCN) or “private plasma screen network” (205). The most common forms of digital signage are digital billboards and TV’s in retail environments and they show content such as “advertisements, community information, entertainment and news” (205).

Digital_Signage.jpg
Provided by: www.signageinfo.com
The goal of digital signage is to inform consumers and invite them to take a closer look at the content (whether it be an ad for a store, a product, or an event). Digital signage can be used as part of a unique shopping “atmosphere” (205). Studies have shown that most people are satisfied with aspects such as quality and selection in stores but they would like to see more information about specific products, which is where digital signage comes in. There are new signage technologies such as “electronic shelf-edge displays” and “product information kiosks” that give people the information they need to make a sound purchase (206).


The main hypothesis of the study was that, “Digital signage will positively influence positive affect and positive perceptions of the mall environment” (208). These positive perceptions should “elicit positive emotions such as pleasure and arousal and result in higher spending” (208). It has been shown through research that shoppers who are in a good mood are more likely to spend money. The second hypothesis stated that, “The effect of digital signage on shoppers’ approach behaviors will be fully mediated by positive affect and positive perceptions of the mall environment” (208).

The research itself was conducted by installing a trial of digital signage screens in a mall near London, UK. Then, using a self-report questionnaire, the researchers surveyed several respondents on topics relating to their perception of the digital signage, perception of the mall environment, affect, approach behavior, and emotions. “5-point Likert-like scales” were used in the survey and the questions were grouped into themed sections (209). There were 22 screens used in the study and they were placed in several different types of stores and other locations throughout the mall. 200 messages were shown on the screens pertaining to everything from advertisements to mall information to general public information.

The results from the survey revealed that digital signage is in fact an effective stimulus that creates “positive perceptions of the mall environment, emotions and approach behavior such as spending.” In relation to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), digital signage is useful in two ways: “it conveys information when and where shoppers are in the mood to shop (the central route of the ELM), and has an affective or entertainment component (the peripheral route)” (213). From the results the researchers estimated that improving design and décor to increase approach behaviors to the same level achieved by digital signage could cost malls over $20 million (213). Overall, “digital signage has a significant, positive, total effect on perception of the mall environment, positive emotion and approach behaviors” (213).

This study proves that certain stimuli, in this case digital signage, can have an impact on both the central route as well as the peripheral route of persuasion. You may be interested in the content because you are already in shopping mode (central) or because the flashy images and colors catch your attention (peripheral). The route that people use depends on their personal situation.


Brakus, J., Dennis, C., Michon, R., Newman, A., Wright, L. (2010, May). The mediating effects of perception and emotion: Digital signage in mall atmospherics. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 17 (3), 205-215. Retrieved February 27, 2011 from ScienceDirect database.


An Explanation of the Relationship between Instructor Humor and Student Learning: Instructional Humor Processing Theory
Summary by: Stephanie Trinh

Learning about any subject in school can be interesting as long as the professor teaching the subject makes it so that learning the subject is fun. As a student, I can testify that professors who use humor during lectures are the professors that students find to be more interesting and will motivate students to want to come to class and pay attention. Many people have debated on the reason for why instructors use humor in class and the majority believes that humor used in class is to enhance learning, being that “humor has often been described as an attention gaining strategy” (Wanzer, Irwin, & Frymier, 2010).

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Provided by: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/

A recent study was proposed by professors from West Virginia University on the explanation of the relationship between instructor humor and student learning to determine how effective humor is when instructors use humor during their lectures. While we may assume that the answer to this study is simple - that humor being used during student learning is obviously effective; we need to take into consideration how effective, if the humor is appropriate and why it facilitates learning.

Melissa Wanzer, Ann Frymier and Jeffrey Irwin present the Instructional Humor Processing Theory (IHPT), a theory that incorporates elements of incongruity-resolution theory, disposition theory and the elaboration likelihood model. These three theories incorporated together address three essential factors: the incongruity resolution theory (an outgrowth of the incongruity theory), which explains how humorous messages are cognitively processed; the disposition theory (an outgrowth of superiority theory), which addresses affective elements of the humorous messages; and last but not least, the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion (ELM), which explains how persuasive messages are processed – either through the central route, when there are cognitive changes in attitudes and influenced behavior, or through the peripheral route, when individuals pay more attention to the cues and heuristics instead of message arguments resulting in no cognitive changes in attitudes. In the grand scheme of things, IHPT is mostly offered to help explain why certain types of humor used during student learning are more effective than others.

Wanzer’s, Frymier’s and Irwin’s initial study on IHPT was with 378 students who pinpointed a specific professor and reported whether that professor used humor that was appropriate or in appropriate, what the students perceived of the professor’s humorousness, and if the humor was effective in helping the students learn. Using the ELM model, “when students perceive the topic or message as relevant, they should be more motivated to process the information, resulting in greater retention and understanding of the content” (Wanzer, Irwin, & Frymier, 2010). However, stated by Petty and Cacioppo (the developers of the ELM), motivation is not sufficient to engage in central route processing because to engage in high elaboration, individuals need to be motivated and able to process the message.

For the study, a series of questions were asked to student participants of a midsized Midwestern university and a small eastern institution. The study asked the students to grade the instructor on a scale based on the 41 humor behaviors developed by Frymier, only identifying five dimensions of humor: other-disparaging, related, offensive, unrelated and self-disparaging. There were three hypotheses: the first predicted that students’ reports of related humor behaviors would be positively associated with learning, the second hypothesis predicted that inappropriate forms of humor would be negatively associated with student learning and the third hypothesis predicted that instructors perceived as funny by their students would use the different types of humor compared to instructors perceived as not funny.

The first hypothesis proved that “unrelated humor was not associated with teacher or course affective learning” (Wanzer, Irwin, & Frymier, 2010), which proved to be consistent with IHPT because unrelated humor does not enhance the students’ ability to process course content. The second hypothesis resulted in nonsignificant correlations of affective learning and learning indicators, proving to be consistent with IHPT once again because inappropriate humor generated negative effects, reducing motivation to process course content. The last hypothesis made it clear that instructors perceived as humorous and used more different types of humor compared to instructors who were not considered humorous. From these results, it was confirmed that Instructional Humor Processing Theory proposes that humor used by professors must be cognitively processed by students, and if the humor attempt is recognized, then the professor will receive results of laughter and smiling.

An implication that may arise from this study was that students may have under or over-reported on their survey and the students’ perceptions of instructor humor with student learning may differ. Students have different personalities and perceive the different types of humor differently from one another and it is very difficult to measure learning because everyone learns differently.

Wanzer, Frymier and Irwin have helped contribute to the Elaboration Likelihood Model with the Instructional Humor Processing Theory by help proving that in order for the central route to provide evidence that student learning is more successful when it comes to lectures presented with humor, an individual must be aware and motivated to be able to process and understand the message. The message being processed and understood will be "learned" and thus proving that humor used during student learning holds true with the Elaboration Likelihood Model.

Wanzer, M. A., Irwin, J., & Frymier, A. B. (2010). An Explaination of the Relationship between Instructor Humor and Student Learning: Instructional Humor Processing Theory. Buffalo, NY: National Communication Association.


Beauty as a Tool: The Effect of Model Attractiveness, Product Relevance, and Elaboration Likelihood on Advertising Effectiveness

Summary by: Carolann Rogers

Many of us who watch television are exposed to product advertisements everyday: on every commercial break and often times inside the televised program itself. Because of this constant display researchers; Trampe, Stapel, Siero, and Mulder, wanted to find the relation between model attractiveness and product relevance in advertisements. Depending on the overall elaboration likelihood of the consumer (the motivation they require to process the issue relevant information) model attractiveness presents itself as an argument or peripheral cue. The main purpose of this study was to see how effective the attractiveness of models was on the product being sold to the consumer watching. We all know that beauty is an effective tool, but how effective is it concerning the product relevance and the role of elaboration likelihood?
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Provided by: www.brandweek.com


These researchers conducted a hypothesis that they thought was going to be the outcome of the procedure. They expected that when the ELM was high, consumers attitudes would be more positive when the model’s attractiveness was relevant to the product market, in this case a diet product, compared when the model’s attractiveness was inferior in relevance to the product (product being deodorant). However, when elaboration likelihood was low, the product relevance was strongly believed to not affect the attitude of the consumers.

The study was conducted of 159 participants, who were randomly assigned to two different conditioned stimulus situations. Of these 159 contributors, all of them were female. The study wanted to observe women in this type of circumstance because the advertisements being shown were particularly targeted at their market. Upon separation of the groups the researchers wanted to specifically state a high or low elaboration observation to the consumer groups. Either instructed to not think too much about the advertisement (low ELM) or instructed to think about the ad wholly (high ELM). Four mock advertisements were created for the purpose of the study. Two of the ads featured the attractive model, in one she advertised the product relevant commodity (a diet product), and the other where she advertised the less relevant product (deodorant).

To create the image of an “average” looking model, imaging software “stretched” the size of her body. This disfigurement was done to keep the advertisements as similar as possible. After viewing the ads, the participants answered questions based on judgments, impressions, and likeliness of a purchase of the product. Then they were asked to answer 5 questions to measure elaboration likelihood instructions (given at the beginning of study): the extent of examination extensively, carefully, for a large amount of time, reliance on their first impression, and extent thought about for all the aspects of the ad.

An analysis of variance was conducted to measure the main effect of the elaboration likelihood. Of remembering the ELM instructions, 97% of the high elaboration conditioned group followed instruction carefully. 99% of the low elaboration conditioned groups remembered and followed instructions correctly. Then the researchers had to conduct another ANOVA to test if the attractive model was perceived as more attractive than the “average” model. This too was a success, for the results came back positive that the attractive model was more attractive than the average model. As the researches hypothesis claimed, when the EL was low, the participant’s attitudes favored the ad with the attractive model versus the “average” model. Additionally the same occurred when the attractive model was paired with the less relevant product (deodorant). When EL was high, the women favored the attractive model with the relevant product (diet product), contrary when presented the deodorant ad with the attractive model. These participated attitudes were not affected toward the product.

This study and the researchers involved confirm the ELM theory with its concrete evidence of success in the route of persuasion. The female participants that were involved in the high elaboration group proved they had spent cognitive effort on the ad while also exhibiting positive attitudes in regards to the relevancy and model attractiveness. Because this study showed a success in gaining confident perceptions of a product, marketers and advertisers can use the elaboration likelihood model to focus consumer attention on their product in gaining profits. If putting the ELM into action, it appears that awareness is important to grab the attention of the target market. For example, like those commercials that start off saying “do you wish you had more confidence? Do you wish you had a better body? Well try this!” According to the ELM, creating awareness for the product and creating advertisements that include people who others admire, will represent your product in a positive viewing. Commercials, print advertisements, celebrities, movies, and television programs (all portraying attractive people) are only few to the many real-life situations that implement the elaboration likelihood model, which frequently persuade targeted consumer-product markets.


Trampe, D., Stapel, D. A., Siero, F. W., & Mulder, H. (2010). Beauty as a tool: The effect of model attractiveness, product relevance, and elaboration likelihood on advertising effectiveness. Psychology & Marketing, 27(12), 1101-1121. doi:10.1002/mar.20375





The Role of Personality Traits and Perceived Values in Persuasion: An Elaboration Likelihood Model Perspective on Online Shopping

Summary By: Chad Steiner


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A popular marketing technique for those who use peripheral route to make decisions is to use famous people in order to arouse positive association with the brand (Provided by: http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikebasketball/en_US/)


In the article, The Role of Personality Traits and Perceived Values in Persuasion: An Elaboration Likelihood Model Perspective on Online Shopping, by Shu-Hui and Kuan-Ping Lee, the authors set out to find a correlation between consumers opinions/feelings of a website based on the route they use in the Elaboration Likelihood Model as well as the finding the role their personality traits played in the decision making. The study was done in order to find how, “interactions of personality traits and virtual surroundings can impact on individuals beliefs, attitudes, and purchasing intentions"(Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1379). In other words “…the purpose of this study was to fill the research gap: firstly, to identify the role of consumer personality traits in the relationship between consumers’ beliefs about website contents and perceived hedonic (immediate pleasure/peripheral) and utilitarian (usefulness and practical/central) values: secondly, to identify the influences of consumers’ beliefs about website contents and perceived values on consumers’ attitude toward, and trust in, online shopping and their approach behavior," (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1381).

The Elaboration Likelihood Model was used in order to examine what people see in a good or bad website in correlation with the sampled personality traits. For example, those with a central route process will monitor a website based on the relevance of its content, important information etc. In other words, these people are looking for facts and valuable information in the process of grading a website and generally have personality traits such as people who like control, are responsible and are organized. On the other hand, those that have a peripheral route are stimulated by colors and music etc and have personality traits of agreeableness, extraversion and openness. The goal of using the Elaboration Likelihood Model for this analysis is to show marketers how to design a website depending on what route a consumer uses along with the personality traits that contribute to particular feelings about a website.

The procedure for this research started with 40 Taiwanese websites divided in 20 that sell cosmetics and 20 for hotels. These 40 websites were posted to a Bulletin Board System where the participants were randomly linked and allowed one website to survey. The questionnaire that needed to be completed consisted of questions about personality traits, beliefs regarding website content, perceived utilitarian values, perceived hedonic values, attitudes toward the website, trust in online shopping, approach behavior, and general information. The survey research ended with 223 successfully participated surveys in March 2007 (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1386).

The Hypotheses attempted to prove consisted of:

H1: consumers who perceive the website as having more rational message will perceive greater utilitarian value in the website.
H2: consumers who perceive the website as having a more hedonic and experiential.
H3: Consumers who offer more favorable opinions about the website and believe its contents are accurate, will have a more favorable attitude toward the website.
H4: Consumers who perceive the website as having greater utilitarian value will perceive higher hedonic value in the website.
H5: Consumers with a higher level of perceived utilitarian value will have ma more favorable attitude toward the website.
H6: Consumers with a higher level of perceived hedonic value will have a more favorable attitude toward the website (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1382).

H7: The level of consumers’ conscientiousness and agreeableness will moderate the influence of beliefs about website contents on utilitarian value (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1383).
H8: The level of consumers’ emotional stability, extraversion, and openness to experience will moderate the influence of beliefs about website contents on hedonic shopping value.
H9: Consumers who perceive higher utilitarian values in websites will have a higher level of trust in online shopping.
H10: Consumers who perceive higher hedonic values in websites will have a higher level of trust in online shopping.
H11: consumers who think more highly of online websites will have a higher level of trust in online shopping (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1384).
H12: consumers who have greater trust in online shopping will have more positive approach behaviors to online shopping (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1385).


After performing a t-test for confidence, it was found that the content of a webpage had a positive impact on utilitarian values which agrees with the research that a website should provide information and products that meets the functional needs of the consumer. There was also a positive impact found that the peripheral view had a direct influence on the attitude and trust one had with a website through hedonic values. Therefore, we can conclude that a marketer should tailor a website to contain content that is both valuable and relevant for a consumer in order to increase utilitarian customer value (H1 and H2 supported, H3 partially supported) (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1390).

We also know that utilitarian value is significantly and positively correlated with hedonic values, attitude toward a website and security in online shopping. In this research, based on the p-value received, there was no relevance between hedonic value and security of online shopping which supports the cognition-affect model (H4, H5, H6 and H9 supported while H10 was not) (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1391).

The attitude toward the website significantly and positively influenced consumers’ trust of online shopping, trust of online shopping also had a significant and positive influence on approach behavior. The results seem to suggest that once a consumer has developed a positive attitude toward the website, this attitude will further facilitate the trust of online shopping, which in turn influences consumer’s approaching behavior (H11 and H12 supported) (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1391)

For H7 and H8, the goal was to see if there was a correlation between personality traits and website influences that can influence consumer beliefs about web content basic on perceived hedonic and utilitarian values. After running a regression model, it was found that good natured people (level of agreeableness) will have a better ability to adapt the their environment and have less of a negative effect of web content. It was also found that there was a significance between conscientiousness and hedonic values. It was found that people with higher levels of conscientiousness generally display the ability to plan, control, be responsible and thus have higher utilitarian values. It was also a significance between openness and extraversion and positive relations with hedonic values meaning, these people are calm and cheerful and are more moved by the music and color of web design and will in turn increase purchase loyalty and positivity in the website (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1393)

In conclusion
"the study results indicate that consumers’ beliefs about a central route to website contents have a significant influence on their perceived utilitarian value, while consumers’ beliefs about a peripheral route to website contents have a significant impact on their perceived hedonic value of a website. These results suggest that online marketers should design the website contents to elicit either central route beliefs or peripheral route beliefs," ((Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1393).
2) "Consumers perceived utilitarian value has positive effects on hedonic value, attitude toward website, and trust in online shopping. Consumers perceived hedonic value also has a positive effect on their attitude toward a website, but not on their trust in online shopping. These results may imply that, since hedonic shopping value is aesthetic, epicurean, and highly related to the pleasure of shopping this perceived hedonic value should indirectly impact on trust through attitude rather than impact directly on trust," (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1394).
3) "Personality traits have served as moderators to influence the relationship between consumers perception of website contents and their perceived utilitarian/hedonic value," (Kuan-Ping, Shu-Hui 1394).

Lee, K.P., Chen, S.H., (2008). The Role of Personality Traits and Perceived Values In Persuasion: An Elaboration Likelihood Model Perspective On Online Shopping. Social Behavior and Personality 36(10), 1379-1400. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.