The way people communicate is an important part of their social role,
career and relationship. As humans, we communicate with and about ourselves
as well as with and about others. Since it is so important to us, many
researchers have come up with theories that help us to persuade people more
effectively. Social Judgment Theory and Elaboration Likelihood Model are
two of such theories that I will outline. Though these theories help us
organize, clarify processes and predict future outcomes, there are a few
limitations due to which these theories are not guaranteed to be accurate
at all times.
The violence which erupted in Nepal since the killing of most of the
on July 2002 is threatening to affect the country’s vital tourism industry.
Tourists from other countries don’t think the environment is safe anymore.
But this is only worsening the economy and the critical state of Nepal. How
would Nepal try and bring its tourism industry back to how it used to be?
The Social Judgment Theory is a theory which addresses just how difficult
people can be in situations like this. This theory is quite useful for
three primary reasons. First, it explains why people react the way they do.
Second, it explains why persuasion is so difficult to accomplish. Third, it
offers a good common sense plan for doing persuasion in the real world.
There will be a range of positions that one would take for a topic like
this one. Now, according to Social Judgment Theory, we can categorize each
position into one of three zones: the latitude of acceptance (zone of
positions we accept); the latitude of non-commitment (zone of positions we
neither accept nor reject); and the latitude of rejection (zone of
positions we reject).
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) is the suggestion that there
exist two basic routes to persuasion. One is called the Central route, and
the other is called the peripheral route. The central route involves
“message elaboration which is the extent to which a person carefully thinks
about issue relevant arguments contained in a persuasive communication.”
The peripheral route “offers a short hand way to accept or reject a message
without any active thinking about the attributes of the issue or the object
of consideration.”(Page 198). The Tourism Minister in Nepal could learn a
lot from this theory to persuade people and bring about an attitude change
in them. He does not feel that the political affairs of the country should
affect tourism in any way. But how can he convince people about this?
Let’s begin by evaluating the two theories and considering how
effective they can work out to be. According to Anderson and Ross firstly
it is important for us to figure out if the theories are unnecessarily
complicated? Some people doubt if we do weigh every new idea by comparing
it with our present point of view (Class Discussions: Hydra). This makes
the Social Judgment Theory seem more complicated. But in reality, if not
consciously, sub-consciously we do weigh out every idea before we make our
decision. It all happens so quickly that we don’t realize it (Student’s
Response). As for The Elaboration Likelihood Model it is slightly more
complex. Distraction can disrupt elaboration (page 201), which means that
this would affect the central route. Additionally for the peripheral route
the recipients rely on six cues which make the theory more complex and
difficult to achieve. Lasting persuasion is likely if the receiver thinks,
or rehearses, favorable thoughts about the message. A boomerang effect
(moving away from the advocated position) is likely to occur if the subject
rehearses unfavorable thoughts about the message or if the message is
ambiguous. I would say that it’s less predictive and less practical than
the Social Judgment Theory.
The Criterion of consistency examines if the theories are consistent.
Both the theories are consistent and do not have any unexplained
inconsistencies. Different experiments do have different results but all of
them have a reason that is well explaines by the two theories.
The third evaluation is the Criterion of refutability. I think the
Social Judgment Theory is very practical and can be tested. When people
receive messages they immediately judge where the message should be placed
on a scale in their mind. In the case of the above mentioned example, the
Minister would consider what issues concern the tourists that don’t visit
the country anymore. In this case he has to convince a large group of
people with similar fears. Considering their latitudes the Tourism Minister
will be able to think of a message that will persuade people from other
countries to be more optimistic about flying. In the case of the
Elaboration Likelihood Model, the Minister would have to find issues of
strong and weak personal relevance and test which route works best. If the
receivers are motivated and able to elaborate on the message and if there
are compelling arguments to use, then the central route to persuasion
should be used. If the receivers are unlikely to elaborate the message, or
if the available arguments are weak, then the peripheral route to
persuasion should be used. Since the Minister might not have sufficient
details to guarantee security in the country, he might use the peripheral
route in this case.
Both the theories are imaginative and interesting. The Social
Theory talks about the three latitudes of attitudes which are very
interesting. Not only
researchers and Theorists study about it but it also encourages students
and readers to
apply the theory to different situations and problems. The Elaboration
is a theory that discusses two paths that one can take in persuading
people. It shows how
the theory tries to explain the behavior of people when they are trying to
others. The two theories seem to have quite a bit of practical utility and
they both pass as
a good scientific theory because it meets most of the criteria.
1. A First Look at Communication Theory
-by Em Griffin. (Pg 186-Pg 207)
2. Group Questions and Student Responses.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model claims that there are two paths to
persuasion: the central path and the peripheral path. The central path is
most appropriately used when the receiver is motivated to think about the
message and has the ability to think about the message. If the person cares
about the issue and has access to the message with a minimum of
distraction, then that person will elaborate on the message. Lasting
persuasion is likely if the receiver thinks, or rehearses, favorable
thoughts about the message. A boomerang effect (moving away from the
advocated position) is likely to occur if the subject rehearses unfavorable
thoughts about the message. If the message is ambiguous but pro-attitudinal
(in line with the receiver’s attitudes) then persuasion is likely. If the
message is ambiguous but counter-attitudinal then a boomerang effect is
If the message is ambiguous but attitudinally neutral (with respect to the
receiver) or if the receiver is unable or not motivated to listen to the
message then the receiver will look for a peripheral cue. Peripheral cues
include such communication strategies as trying to associate the advocated
position with things the receiver already thinks postively towards (e.g.,
food, money, sex), using an expert appeal, and attempting a contrast effect
where the advocated position is presented after several other positions,
which the receiver despises, have been presented. If the peripheral cue
association is accepted then there may be a temporary attitude change and
possibly future elaboration. If the peripheral cue association is not
accepted, or if it is not present, then the person retains the attitude