Elaboration Likelihood Model

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QUT Digital Repository: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/39406

Kerr, Gayle F., Beede, Park, Proud, William, & Schultz, Don (2010) The elaboration likelihood model in the new millennium : an exploration study. In: 2010 American Academy of Advertising European conference, 4 - 6 June, 2010, Milan, Italy.

© Copyright 2010 (please consult the authors).

The Elaboration Likelihood Model in the New Millennium: An exploratory study


Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), developed in 1981 by Petty and Cacioppo, explained alternative ways in which source, message and contextual variables impact attitude change. Since that time, advertising has changed fundamentally and it is important to re-examine the fit of this model in the lives of today‟s consumers. Results suggest that given ad stimuli conditions as replicated from the 1983 study, attitude toward the product will not differ. One significant effect does emerge however. Among perceptions of people in the ad, an association exists with brand attitude, construed as similar to “endorser” observations or “peripheral cue” in the original study.


The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) was developed in 1981 by Petty and Cacioppo to explain the conflicting theories in persuasive communications by suggesting a number of ways in which source, message and other contextual variables impact attitude change (Petty, Kasmer, Haugtvedt and Cacioppo 1987). Prior to that, the literature in the field had been described by Fishbein and Ajzen (1981 in Petty and Wegener 1999, p.41) as “an accumulation of largely contradictory and inconsistent findings with few (if any) generalizable principles of effective communication”. Since the almost 30 years since its inception, the ELM, a socio-psychological theory, has been widely applied to different consumer behaviour as well as evolving advertising contexts. ELM has helped explain persuasive communication in internet communication (Hershberger 2003), web site trust (Lee and Huh 2007), and the effects of consumer skepticism on online consumers (Sher and Lee 2009). Bloemer, Brijs and Kasper (2009) applied the ELM to the new disciplinary area of country of origin effects. While the application of the ELM in research has been prolific, the empirical testing of the model is a path less travelled (Andrews and Shimp 1990). In addition, many empirical replications were conducted in the decade after its inception (Petty, Capioppo and Schuman 1983, Stiff 1985, Petty and Cacioppo 1986, Andrews and Shimp 1990). Since that time, however, advertising has changed fundamentally (Krugman 2000; Malthouse, Calder and Tomhane 2007; Schultz and Pilotta 2004) in part due to the digital revolution and its inherent impact on the way consumers use and attend to media. It seems important then as the ELM enters its third decade to examine the fit of this well-respected model of persuasive communication in the lives of today‟s consumers.


This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, ELM is a fundamental advertising theory, which has a home in all leading advertising texts and advertising programs at universities worldwide. Secondly, ELM is frequently cited by advertising researchers. Thirdly, there has been much discussion about how advertising has changed, but little reflection of this in light of some of its most fundamental theory. Finally, this research is important as the first of three global studies to be completed. The subsequent two are currently being conducted in the US and the UK, by leading marketing communication researchers. This study provides some initial insight, or perhaps a sneak preview, into this important work.

Overview of the ELM The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) was developed across a number of experimental studies by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo (1981, 1983, 1986). It developed from the authors‟ work on persuasion theory and attempted to describe two paths to persuasion and attitude change (Petty, Kasmer,...
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