Elaboration likelihood model

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Elaboration Likelihood Model



Alternate name(s)


Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)

Changed Attitude

Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)

Argument Quality Peripheral Cues

Concise description of theory

The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) is a psychological theory that addresses the process of persuasion. Specifically, it is a “dual-process” theory – that is, a theory that explains that there are two routes through which persuasion takes place, the central route and the peripheral route.

In the ELM, information is the primary driver of attitude change. When information is carefully considered, cognitive effort is expended, and then an informed judgment is made, an individual is using the central route of information processing. When using the central route, individuals cognitively elaborate on the content of an informational message, evaluate its content, and consider other issues relevant to the information. Elaboration in the ELM thus refers to “the extent to which a person scrutinizes the issue-relevant arguments contained in the persuasive communication.” (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986, p. 7). When elaboration levels are high, the individual is using the central route.

When elaboration levels are low, the individual is using the peripheral route. This route requires less cognitive effort than the aforementioned central route. Heuristics, cues, and affinity with the source of the information form the basis for an attitude change when using the peripheral route. Simple decision rules are used here rather than active, effortful analysis of information.

The ELM explains that changes in attitudes are a function of (1) the quality of the information or argument, (2) peripheral cues, including heuristics and other stimuli that influence persuasion, and (3) elaboration likelihood.

Diagram/schematic of theory

ELM model

Originating author(s)

Petty, R.E., and Cacioppo, J.T. 1986. Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Petty, R.E., Cacioppo, J.T., and Goldman, R. 1981. "Personal Involvement as a Determinant of Argument-Based Persuasion," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (41:5), p 847.

Seminal articles

Eagly, A.H., and Chaiken, S. 1993. The Psychology of Attitudes. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Chaiken, S., and Trope, Y. 1999. Dual-Process Theories in Social Psychology. Guilford Press.

Originating area


Level of analysis


Links to WWW sites describing theory

Elaboration Likelihood Model - Wikipedia Entry - [1]

Elaboration Likelihood Model – Psychwiki.com - [2]

Elaboration Likelihood Model – University of Twente - [3]

Elaboration Likelihood Model – video from “The Psych Files” - [4]

Links from this theory to other theories

Technology acceptance model

Theory of planned behavior

Unified theory of acceptance and use of technology

IS articles that use the theory

Angst, C. M., and R. Agarwal (2009) "Adoption of Electronic Health Records in the Presence of Privacy Concerns: The Elaboration Likelihood Model and Individual Persuasion", MIS Quarterly, (33) 2, pp. 339-370.

Bhattacherjee, A., and C. Sanford (2006) "Influence Processes for Information Technology Acceptance: An Elaboration Likelihood Model", MIS Quarterly, pp. 805-825.

Cheung, C. M.-Y., C.-L. Sia, and K. K. Kuan (2012) "Is This Review Believable? A Study of Factors Affecting the Credibility of Online Consumer Reviews from an ELM Perspective", Journal of the Association for Information Systems, (13) 8.

Dinev, T. (2014) "Why Would We Care about Privacy?", European Journal of Information Systems, (23) 2, pp. 97-102.

Fui-Hoon Nah, F., and I. Benbasat (2004) "Knowledge-based Support in a Group Decision Making Context: An Expert-Novice Comparison", Journal of the Association for Information Systems, (5) 3.

Jahng, J., H. Jain, and K. Ramamurthy (2007) "Effects of Interaction Richness on Consumer Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions in E-commerce: Some Experimental Results", European Journal of Information Systems, (16) 3, pp. 254-269.

Kim, D., and I. Benbasat (2006) "The Effects of Trust-Assuring Arguments on Consumer Trust in Internet Stores: Application of Toulmin's Model of Argumentation", Information Systems Research, (17) 3, pp. 286-300.

Kim, D., and I. Benbasat (2009) "Trust-Assuring Arguments in B2C E-commerce: Impact of Content, Source, and Price on Trust", Journal of Management Information Systems, (26) 3, pp. 175-206.

Paul Benjamin Lowry, Gregory D. Moody, Anthony Vance, Matthew L. Jensen, Jeffrey L. Jenkins, and Taylor Wells (2012). “Using an elaboration likelihood approach to better understand the persuasiveness of website privacy assurance cues for online consumers,” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), vol. 63(4), pp. 755-766 (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.21705).

Meservy, T. O., M. L. Jensen, and K. J. Fadel (2013) "Evaluation of Competing Candidate Solutions in Electronic Networks of Practice", Information Systems Research, (25) 1, pp. 15-34.

Sussman, S. W., and W. S. Siegal (2003) "Informational Influence in Organizations: An Integrated Approach to Knowledge Adoption", Information Systems Research, (14) 1, pp. 47-65.

Tam, K. Y., and S. Y. Ho (2005) "Web Personalization as a Persuasion Strategy: An Elaboration Likelihood Model Perspective", Information Systems Research, (16) 3, pp. 271-291.

Zhang, W., and S. A. Watts (2008) "Capitalizing on Content: Information Adoption in Two Online Communities", Journal of the Association for Information Systems, (9) 2.


Jeff Baker

Date last updated

May 26, 2014

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