The Elaboration Likelihood Model

The Elaboration Likelihood model posits that there are two pathways through which messages are processed. One pathway is characterized by fast judgments made by individuals that are based on simple associations that they have (positive or negative). Here, peripheral cues, such as persuasive communication messages, may often lead to temporary changes in attitudes or beliefs. The other pathway demands more scrutiny (or elaboration) and time to process the information. Although this pathway takes longer and more effort, the change in attitudes or beliefs tends to last longer (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986, 1981).

In emergency situations, where the limited timeframe may affect an individuals’ motivation to think deliberately and critically about a message, the elaboration likelihood model can be used to identify topics where persuasive communication could be most effective.