Business Finance
Make an outline

Comm Research Analysis

Indiana State University

Question Description


  1. EXAMPLES WILL BE INCLUDED OF A PAPER SOMEONE WROTE AND WHAT TOPIC THEY CHOSE. The example is a full paper not what I want you to do though.
  2. You should propose the implementation of the theory in new situations that emerged with the development of media landscape. Your results will inspire further development of the theory.

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Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 1 Abstract With the emergence of the Internet, the way we communicate has changed dramatically. We can now communicate in real-time and with people from around the world with a click of a button. As the way we communicate evolves, so does the way we study it. In this paper, I am going to look at how Richard Petta and John Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Model is being used to study communication in the realm of social media. I am also going to argue that people are taking the peripheral route when it comes to persuasion instead of the central route. People are making decisions based on their emotions instead of taking the time needed for elaboration. They are doing this by taking advice from their “friends” on social media; this is also called “peer review.” People are now seeing their “friends” as credible sources. In addition, emotion plays a huge role in persuasion when we look at the cue of “matched self-concept.” This is when people believe something because they have similar views or a similar background as the author. By making decisions based on peripheral cues, people are opening themselves up to be deceived. I looked into the development of fake news in the 2016 presidential election to prove this point. During the election numerous fake news stories were posted and shared on social media; not only were these stories believed my many, but they also had severe consequences. Even though social media is an exciting and rapidly growing form of communication, scholars need to continue to study how it is being used and how people can use it intelligently and safely. Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 2 In todays fast-paced, multimedia world people are bombarded daily with information. Even though we have more information than ever at our fingertips, are we really able to make more informed decisions? The information on the web can be overwhelming and intimidating to an average user. How do we narrow down that information and then make a decision about the validity of it? When it comes to persuasion and the Internet, communication researchers are looking at Richard Petta and John Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Model to help them understand how Internet users are persuaded. Taylor University professors, Shasha Teng, Kok Wei Khong, and Wei Wei Goh (2014) did extensive research on how ELM applied to the world of social media and found that it is the leading theory to explain how people are persuaded. “ELM is considered the most popular and useful persuasion model in consumer research and social psychology. ELM studies have been extended in the social media context after the introduction of new channels (p. 66). Their study is based on the two routes of persuasion developed by Petty and Cacioppo – the central and peripheral routes. In their ELM theory, Petty and Cacioppo state that people can take one of two routes when being persuaded. “The central route involves message elaboration. In an attempt to process new information rationally, people using the central route carefully scrutinize the ideas, try to figure out if they have true merit, and mull over their implications” (Griffin, Ledbetter, & Sparks, 2015, p. 189). The central route requires a lot of thinking and research, but the peripheral route “offers a mental shortcut path to accepting or rejecting a message” (Griffin, Ledbetter, & Sparks, 2015, p. 189). When taking the peripheral route, “recipients rely on a variety of cues that allow them to make a quick decision” instead of taking the time to do vast amounts of research (Griffin, Ledbetter, & Sparks, 2015, p. Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 3 189). However, the cues that lead to recipients taking the peripheral route are different when it comes to social media. Social media users are more likely to make a snap judgment based on personal relevance, emotion, matched self-concept, eWOM (word of mouth), and peer reviews (S. Teng et al, 2014, pp 74-79). Consumers are relying heavily on their “friends” to help narrow down the sea of information so they can quickly make a decision and move on to the next website or post. Richard Petta and John Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Theory is even more applicable today because of the rise of the Internet and the use of social media. The World Wide Web has given the world endless amounts of information at their fingertips, and because of the mass volume of information out there, it is difficult to discern what is factual and what is fictional. In order to navigate the web, people are relying heavily on the peripheral route of persuasion instead of the central route when faced with making decisions on what to buy, what to read, or what to believe. It seems strange that in a time where we have so much information easily available to us that people are basing decisions on what their “friends”, also known as followers on social media, tell them. But, when you think about how much information is thrown at us daily, who has the time to research each claim and make an informed decision? Another contributing factor to taking mental shortcuts is the environment we live in. We live in a fast-paced, information packed society and this can become overwhelming. Therefore, our brains are working more like computers than philosophers. Nicholas Carr (2008) discussed this issue in his article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our Brains.” He states that, “… what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 4 expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it; in a swiftly moving stream of particles.” So if we are trying to take in endless amounts of information, how can we absorb all of it? Carr (2008) argues that this is causing him to lose his ability to focus and read long pieces of writing. To prove his theory, Carr (2008) sites a study of online research habits conducted by scholars from the University College London. Their study suggests that we “may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think.” The University College London scholars found that “people using web sites exhibited ‘a form of skimming activity’, hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would ‘bounce’ out to another site” (qtd. In Carr, 2008). Therefore, when people are made to make a decision on what to buy or believe, they make that decision using the peripheral route of persuasion because of the time it would take to make a more informed and educated decision. To make these quick decisions, people rely on peripheral cues. When it comes to peripheral cues that invoke persuasion in social media, they all revolve around the dominant cue of emotion. “The ELM proposes that judgments can be modified by processes that involve relatively high or low amounts of issue-relevant thinking and emotions can work to influence judgments in different ways depending on the overall degree of elaboration”(Petty and Brinol, 2015, p. 2). Basically, what Petty and Brinol are stating is that under low elaboration conditions, emotions can influence decision. As mentioned earlier, many Internet users don’t have the time or have the capacity to research so they make decisions based on their emotions instead of facts. “The peripheral route occurs when people are unmotivated to the message or unable to Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 5 process issue –relevant arguments. The persuasion process is not the result of deep elaboration, but it occurs by simple inferences of the message’s validity” (Sanjosecabezudo, Gutierrez-Arranz, Gutierrez-Cillan, 2009, p. 300). So, when people don’t have the time or want to take the time to research at topic, they result to the easy way out. The essence behind social media is connecting to your friends and peers; therefore, people look to their “friends” on social media to help them make their decisions. As scholars study the emerging format of social media and how persuasion is used, they are looking at the cues of emotion, peer review, and matching self-concept. People are now connected more that ever before because of the world of social media. It has also changed the way business is performed and the way products are sold to consumers. The emergence of popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube has changed the communication landscape (Teng et al., 2014, p. 66). In addition, people now are engaged in real-time communication by using mobile devices such as cell phones. “These media channels enable marketers to reach and engage customer in real-time with their targeted marketing advertisements” (Teng et al., 2014 p. 69). With all of these messages coming through our phones at a rapid pace, how do we make decisions? The answer is our “friends.” We look at what our friends buy, read, post, and recommend online in order to help us decide what to do. Facebook has just recently added a recommendations tab to their site. You can how ask your hundreds of “friends” who you should hire as a plumber or what book your should read next. This peripheral cue of looking to our peers as credible sources is an emerging factor in persuasion. Communication researchers Moschis and Churchill posited that individuals learn and understand information under the influence of external and environmental Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 6 sources such as peers. These social learners’ attitudes and behaviors toward purchase intention are subject to the influence of friends, and peer communications is the most effective way to transmit information (Teng et al., 2014 p. 69). This new type of peer review can also lead to herding behavior and panic buying among social media users. “This herding social influence indicates that user-generated comments and electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) could act as the cue for consumers to process online information” (Teng et al., 2014, p. 71). This behavior fits under the peripheral route because our peers aren’t experts. We are listening to our friends as deciding that they are credible sources; this is also using an emotional cue. This behavior also falls under Robert Cialdini’s traditional peripheral route cues of social proof and liking (Griffin, Ledbetter, & Sparks, 2015, p. 189). Basically, Cialdidi states that people buy or believe something because “everyone else is doing it” or that “if you love me, you must love my ideas” (Griffin, Ledbetter, & Sparks, 2015, p. 189). It is essentially a form of peer pressure. Another social media peripheral cue is called matched self-concept. Even the most educated person can fall prey to false persuasion when they are presented with a decision based on something they already believe in. “There is abundant evidence that matching variables in the persuasion setting (e.g., using an Hispanic source with an Hispanic audience) can influence persuasion” (Petty and Brinol, 2015, p. 15). Matching the source or message to the audience can be a very easy and a strong peripheral cue. “Specifically, matching can affect attitudes by service as a simple cue when elaboration is low, service as an argument or biasing thoughts or validating them when elaboration is high, and by influencing the amount of information processing with elaboration is Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 7 moderate” (Petty and Brinol, 2015 p. 15). This was seen in the 2016 presidential election. During the election, the term “fake news” was coined and created at almost historical rates. Many people believed these fake news stories because the stories shared the same political beliefs and were often shared or recommended by their online “friends.” According to a study done by Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow (2017) who are both research associates for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, “the growth of online news prompted a new set of concerns, among them that excess diversity of viewpoints would make it easier for like-minded citizens to for “echo chambers” or “filter bubbles” where they would be insulated from contrary perspectives” (2017, p. 211). Meaning that people with like beliefs will only associate with people who share those same beliefs. This can create a false sense of reality for people who don’t expand their circle of knowledge or friends. This concern has then led Allcott and Gentzkow (2017) to study the medium of social media and the creation of fake news in the 2016 election. They looked into why people read and shared fake news stories. They found that “social media platforms such as Facebook have a dramatically different structure than previous media technologies. Content can be relayed among users with no significant third party filtering, fact-checking, or editorial judgment. An individual user with no track record or reputation can in some cases reach as many readers as Fox News, CNN, or the New York Times” (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017, p. 211). In addition, they found that “62 percent of US adults get news on social media, the most popular fake news stories were more widely shared on Facebook than the most popular mainstream news stores, and many people who see fake news stories report that they believe them” (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017, p. 212). These are amazing statics. Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 8 They prove that people are believing what they read on social media, and that the stories that match their self-concept are persuading them the most. In addition, when the story is shared or posted on social media by their “friends” they feel it can be trusted. This falls right into line with the ELM theory. Petty and Cacioppo stated that “as long as people have a personal stake in accepting or rejecting an idea, they will be much more influenced by what a message says than by the characteristics of the person who says it” (Griffin, Ledbetter, & Sparks, 2015, p. 191). Another example of fake news affecting a group is when the “now-defunct website reported that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy” (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017, p. 214). This false story was shared on social media over one million times on Facebook and gathering support of both Catholics and Trump supports alike (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017, p. 214). Many people in Allcott and Gentzkow’s study reported that they believed this headline. Craig Silverman is a journalist who has spent most of his career writing stories about issues of accuracy in media. He tries to explain this phenomenon. He said that as humans we love to hear things that confirm what we think and what we feel and what we already believe. “It’s – it makes us feel good to get information that aligns with what we already believe or what we want to hear. And on the other side of that is when we’re confronted with information that contradicts what we think and what we feel, the reaction isn’t to kind of sit back and consider it. The reaction is often to double down on our existing beliefs. So if you’re feeding people information that basically just tells them what they want to hear, they’re probably going to Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 9 react strongly to that. And the other layer that these pages are very good at is they bring in emotion into it, anger or gate or surprise or, you know, joy. And so if you combine information that aligns with their beliefs, if you can make it something that strikes an emotion in them, then that gets them to react.” (qtd. In Davies, 2016) Allcott and Gentzkow (2017) also looked into why people believe these fake news stories and their results, like Silverman’s, fall right into line with the ELM theory. They found that even though people state that they want to know the truth, they are drawn to and believe stories that are in direct correlation to their personal beliefs. They use the information in these stories to validate their worldview. A person’s need for validation outweighs their need for the truth (2017, p. 218). In addition, a person’s Facebook friend network is “ideologically segregated – among friendships between people who report ideological affiliations in their profiles, the median share of friend with the opposite ideology is only 20 percent for liberals and 18 percent for conservatives – and people are considerably more likely to read and share news articles that are aligned with their ideological positions” (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017, p 221). Ultimately, this is why people’s Facebook feeds are aligned with their own beliefs and often filled with fake stories that they read and believe to be true. An example of a fake news story that made national headlines is the now famous, Pizzagate. After reading a bogus story that was posted on the Internet claiming that Hilary Clinton was running a child sex slave ring out of the back of a Washington, DC pizza parlor, Edgar Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina drove to Washington DC with a semi-automatic gun. He walked into the pizza parlor and fired his weapon in hopes of freeing the children. He was later arrested and Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 10 charged with assault with a dangerous weapon (Roberts and Thomas, 2016; Olson 2017). Incidents like Pizzagate have brought fake news into the academic world and are being studied by communication scholars and mainstream journalists. Social media and its implication is a concerning trend in communication. Fake news isn’t a problem that is going away anytime soon; instead it has become a big business. Silverman who is also the media editor for the website BuzzFeed spend much of this past year studying and writing about fake news and its implications in the presidential campaign. He also looked into where the stories originated from, why they got so much engagement on social media, and what can be done about it (Davies, 2016). Silverman found that the majority of the websites that are creating these fake news stories are originated in a small town in central Macedonia called Vales. Silverman found that in Vales 140 websites were created that were producing fake news about the United States 2016 election. Silverman visited all 140 sites personally and started cataloging them. He found that the founders of these bogus sites were young men who were mostly in their early 20’s. He also discovered that they weren’t trying to influence the election, they were simply in it for the money (Davies, 2016). This goes to show that people believe what they read on the Internet, and they are not taking the time to check out the facts; they are not participating in the central route of evaluation. Thus, the unscrupulous, tech savvy people are giving readers what they want, and are making a big profit from it. They fact that producing fake news has become a big business around the world shows that people are taking the easy way out; they are relying only on the peripheral route for evaluation. The question arises, if this trend continues, what will happen to our society? Elaboration Likelihood Model and Social Media 11 The ELM theory is clearly helping communication scholars study the new and constantly changing world of social media. It is a communication format that gains more users each day. Currently Facebook has over 1.9 billion members who are exchanging information daily (Fiegerman, 2017). If we don’t start becoming more conscientious and aware, the negative implications are vast. Luckily, people are paying attention and starting ...
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