Changing Minds Through the Art of Persuasion

Abner Torres Martinez
3 min readFeb 7, 2022
Photo by Elizabeth Hopper on ThoughtCo.

In today’s lesson from a future media practitioner, I bring to you the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) and its application to crafting a persuasive message. First, let’s define this model.

The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) explains how people process stimuli differently and that the outcomes of these processes can change a person’s attitudes and behavior. When a persuader presents information to an audience, a level of elaboration results. Elaboration refers to the amount of effort an audience member has to use in order to process and evaluate a message, remember it, and then accept or reject it.

ELM suggests that there are two routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route. The video below gives a detailed explanation of both in under three minutes:

Now that you’ve got a fuller understanding of the elaboration likelihood model, I want to discuss how this theory influences how I craft persuasive messages.

The elaboration likelihood model has encouraged me to consider the motivation and ability of my target audience. Jeremy Nicholson states it best in an article for Psychology Today, “When an individual is motivated and able to think carefully and thoroughly about what you are persuading them to do, they will often evaluate the information you provide to decide. Thus, they will take the central route. If they are unmotivated or unable to think carefully and thoroughly, then they will simply make a decision using a few superficial cues and personal biases. In that case, they will take the peripheral route instead.”

For example, if I were to create an advertisement for skin care products, I would target individuals who are in the market for said treatment. People who have experienced acne, oily or dry skin, aging, or skin conditions. I know that these people will pay closer attention to details about the brand than those who have no need for the item. Displaying these appeals across skin care websites, stores like Target and Ulta, and dermatologist offices will lead to higher conversion rate.

I have also considered how to appeal to multiple audiences through the elaboration likelihood model. Focusing on content and a message that appeals to both frequent skin care users and casual skin care users. I recently bought a face cleanser, after watching an online paid advertisment. I had been needing one for a while, especially with how dry my skin has been getting. Unfortunately, I had no idea which company to purchase it from. I came across an advertisement for CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, and the vivid details and woman who was nurturing her face through the cleanser are what sold me. I would be an example of peripheral route. The advertisement I saw also mentioned what is included in the unique formulas, such as hyaluronic acid, and three essential ceramides, which would be more useful to an expert viewer.

Photo by Holly James on LOOKFANTASTIC

The elaboration likelihood model has been an influential and widely-cited theory in mass communication, and its key contribution is the idea that people can be persuaded of things in one of two different ways depending on their level of elaboration for a particular topic.

Now tell me, how would you craft the perfect persuasive message?