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 royal family
on July 2002 is threatening to affect the country’s vital tourism industry. Tourists from other countries dont 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?
Lets 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 dont realize it (Students 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 its 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 dont 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 Judgment
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 Likelihood Model
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 influence
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 likely.
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 intially held.