Perloff states that the concept of elaboration “refers to the extent to which a person thinks about the issue-relevant arguments contained in a message” (Perloff, 1993, p. 118). If elaboration were calculated on a scale, one side would represent profound deliberation, while the other would represent an almost complete lack of thought and careful insight. These opposite sides of the scale represent what Petty and Cacioppo call the “two distinct routes to attitude change;” the central route and the peripheral route (Perloff, 1993, p. 119). The central route “consists of thoughtful consideration of the arguments in the message, and occurs only when a receiver possesses both the motivation and ability to think about the message and topic” (Perloff, 1993, p. 121). The peripheral route comes to light “when the receiver lacks ability and/or motivation to engage in much
Elaboration Likelihood 4
thought on the issue” (Stephenson, Benoit, and Tschida, 2001, p. 1). It must be taken into consideration that neither the peripheral, nor central routes are better or worse; they are simply different ways in which persuasive messages are processed.
More specifically, the process of choosing the peripheral or central route begins with the