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Elaboration likelihood model?


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April 05, 2011 8:56PM

The Elaboration Likelihood Model: (ELM):

The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) proposes the more global view that consumer attitudes are changed by two distinctly different "routes to persuasion": a central route or a peripheral route. The central route is particularly relevant to attitude change when a consumer's motivation or ability to assess the attitude object is high; that is, attitude change occurs because then consumer actively seeks out information relevant to the attitude object itself. When consumers are willing to exert the effort to comprehend, learn, or evaluate the available information about the attitude object, learning and attitude change occur via the central route.

In contrast, when a consumer's motivation or assessment skills are low (e.g., low involvement), learning and attitude change tend to occur via the peripheral route without the consumer focusing on information relevant to the attitude object itself. In such cases attitude change often is an outcome of secondary inducements (e.g., cents-off coupons, free samples, beautiful background scenery, great packaging, or the encouragement of a celebrity endorsement).


There are two key implications of the Elaboration Likelihood Model. The first is that any one variable can produce persuasion by different processes in different situations (Petty, 2001). This goes back to the notion that persuasion differs from individual to individual and from situation to situation (Hamilton, 2004). The next importation idea is that not all attitude changes of the same magnitude are equal. That is, thoughtful attitude changes (via central route) are more consequential than non-thoughtful changes via the peripheral route

Behaviors can Precede or Follow Attitude Formation:

Attitude formation and attitude change ha!; stressed the traditional rational" view that consumers develop their attitudes before taking action (e.g.," Know what you are doing before you do it"). There are alternatives to this "attitude precedes behavior" perspective, alternatives that, on careful analysis, are likely to be just as logical and rational. For example, cognitive dissonance theory and attribution theory each provide a different explanation as to why behavior might precede attitude formation.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory:

Cognitive dissonance theory, discomfort or dissonance occurs when a consumer holds conflicting thoughts about a belief or an attitude object. For instance, when consumers have made a commitment-made a down payment or placed an order for a product particularly an expensive one such as an automobile or a personal computer- they often begin to 'feel cognitive dissonance when they think of the unique, positive qualities of the brands not selected ("left behind").

When cognitive dissonance occurs after a purchase, it is parallel post purchase dissonance. Because purchase decisions often require some amount of compromise, post purchase dissonance is quite normal. Thus, in the case of post purchase dissonance, attitude change is frequently an outcome of an

action or behavior. Dissonance propels consumers to reduce the unpleasant feelings created by the rival thoughts. A variety of tactics are open to consumers to reduce post-purchase dissonance.

Attribution Theory:

Attribution theory attempts to explain how people assign causality (e.g., blame or credit) to events on the basis of either their own behavior or the behavior of others. In attribution theory, the underlying question is

"Why did I do this?" "Why did she try to get me to switch brands?" This process of making inferences about one's own or another's behavior is a major component of attitude formation and change.

Self-Perception Theory:

Self-Perception theory is individuals' inferences or judgments as to the causes of their own behavior are a good beginning point for a discussion of attribution. In terms of consumer behavior, self-perception theory suggests that attitudes develop as consumers look at and make judgments about their own behaviors. To appreciate the complexity of self-perception theory it is useful to distinguish between internal and external attributions.

According to the principle of defensive attribution, consumers are likely to accept credit personally for success (internal attribution) and to credit failure to others or to outside events (external attribution). For this reason, it is crucial that marketers offer uniformly high-quality products that allow consumers to perceive themselves as the reason for the success.

Foot-in-the-Door Technique: This strategy is based on the premise that individuals look at their prior behavior (e.g., compliance with a minor request) and conclude that they are the kind of person who says "yes" to such requests (i.e., an internal attribution). Such self-attribution serves to increase the likelihood that they will agree to a similar more substantial request. Research into the foot-in-the-door technique has concentrated on understanding how specific incentives (e.g., cents-off coupons of varying amounts) ultimately influence consumer attitudes and subsequent purchase behavior. It appears that different-size incentives create different degrees of internal attribution which, in turn, lead to different amounts of attitude change.

Attribution towards Others:

In evaluating the words or deeds of others, say, a salesperson, a consumer tries to determine if the salesperson's motives are in the consumer's best interests. If the salesperson motives are viewed as favorable to the consumer, the consumer is likely to respond favorably. Otherwise, the consumer is likely to reject the salesperson's words and go elsewhere to make a purchase.

Attribution toward Things:

It is in the area of judging product performance that consumers are most likely to form product attributions. As products (or services) can readily be thought of as things, so consumer researchers are interested in consumer attributes. They want to find out why a product meets or don't meet their expectations. In this regard, they could attribute the products successful performance (or failure) to the product itself, to themselves, to other people or situations, or to some combination of these factors.

How we Test our Attributions:

After making initial attributions about a product's performance or a person's words of actions, we often attempt to determine whether the inference we made is correct. According to a leading attribution theorist, individuals acquire conviction about particular observations by acting like "naive scientists," that is, by collecting additional information in an attempt to confirm(or disconfirm) prior inferences. In collecting such

Information, consumers often use the following criteria:

1. Distinctiveness: The consumer attributes an action to a particular product or person if the action occurs when the product (or person) is present and does not occur in its absence.

2. Consistency over time: Whenever the person or product is present, the consumer's inference or reaction must be the same, or nearly so.

3. Consistency over modality: The inference or reaction must be the same, even when the situation in which it occurs varies.

4. Consensus: The action is perceived, in the same way by the consumers.