The Elaboration Likelihood Model

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)
  2. Use the principles of ELM to more effectively design persuasive communications

Aristotle’s three rhetorical appeals—ethos, logos, and pathos—have been employed as persuasive strategies for two thousand years even though there was no proof they were effective. It wasn’t until the 1940s that Psychologists began studying persuasion from a scientific perspective using social experiments and evidence to produce new theories.  Although based in social science, such persuasive strategies are regularly employed and researched in communication due to their role in advertising, marketing, politics, and other industries.

Elaboration Likelihood Model

This week we will examine the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM). This model helps us to understand how our brains process information when we are being persuaded. It shows how a person’s motivation and their ability to process information work together to determine their likelihood of being persuaded.

Elaboration” in this context refers to the effort your brain undertakes to understand, process, and evaluate information. Once we understand how this works, we can use the model to plan persuasive communications targeted to each brain process thereby increasing the likelihood that we can persuade them.

You have two “readings” for this week:

  1. Read this article to understand the basics of the ELM model and to see how we can apply ELM to persuade a customer to complete an online purchase:
  2. After reading the article, watch this video applying ELM to advertising.