Contrast Essay Between Central Route and Peripheral Route to Persuasion

1 January 2017

We are constantly exposed to different sources of persuasion everyday whether it is from the advertisements on television, or the towering billboards we drive past, persuasion is unavoidable. There are two routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route. They both differ from each other and have their own distinct processes that control the way in which people are persuaded. The central route to persuasion requires people to actively think about the message being presented.

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People are usually interested in the topic and consider it to be somewhat of high important and relevance. This motivates them to think carefully about the message, its validity, credibility and the content of its argument. Things like the message’s advantages and disadvantages will be reflected upon. Once the message has been analyzed, through deep processing, people will usually create their own personal opinions on the topic. Because this type of persuasion makes people actively reflect on the message, changed attitudes will occur and persuasion will usually have a bigger impact (Petty & others, 1995).

This type of persuasion is used in settings like election speeches and political debate. However, persuasion through this route will only be successful if the arguments are strong and compelling. The peripheral route, on the other hand, does not require people to actively listen to the message. Rather, people are less motivated to pay attention to the message’s content and rely on heuristics to judge whether to believe what is being said. According to Myers (2010), Heuristics are thinking strategies that enable quick efficient judgments.

They are a smart mechanism that helps save both time and brainpower due to the constant exposure to persuasion one faces everyday. When shown a certain message that might not have high importance, one saves energy by searching for cues that shows whether the message is believable or not. Things like the message’s source, how long the message is or the number of statistics being presented are all examples of incidental cues (Chaiken & Maheswaran, 1994).

The person who presents the message also affects the believability of the message. Research as shown that the more attractive a person is, the more trustworthy and knowledgeable they seem (Chaiken & Maheswaran, 1994). This rule governs the advertising world as businesses pay millions of dollars for celebrities and models to advertise their products. Another important heuristic is the amount of people who have already signed up or accepted the persuasion. One may think, ‘If everyone has signed up then it must be alright. ’ The type of person is also an important factor in encouraging people to automatically accept persuasion, ‘If experts have endorsed this then the message must be credible.

The same goes to close friends, especially people who one judges as similar to them, ‘If Maddy buys it then it must be good. ’ The central route and the peripheral route have distinct affects on persuasion. The central route requires people to invest active involvement and thus demand people to form their own opinions on the matter. It is not merely just one’s reflection on the message’s content but also one’s own formation of thoughts and response on the matter too.

This process of changing attitudes and active participation causes persuasion to last longer (Petty & others, 1995) Conversely, the peripheral route only produces temporary attitude change. This causes persuasion to last relatively short compared to the central route. However, the peripheral routes to persuasion is utilized a lot more than the central route and is often used to make quick judgments on the messages that one constantly faces everyday. In conclusion, there are clear differences between the two types of routes to persuasion.

The central route requires one’s active engagement and consideration of the message and will usually have a longer lasting affect. The peripheral route, however, relies on heuristics and incidental cues to guide quick judgments of the message causing persuasion to be shorter lasting. Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages, and are suited to specific types of situations, which one can choose from when facing persuasion.

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