The Elaboration Likelihood Model: How Does Emotion Play Into Persuasive Media?

Colleen Harley
4 min readSep 25, 2022



We all know that our emotions seem to get toyed with when it comes to the media we consume. If you’re anything like me, logging on to any news web source, and I’m immediately hit with a wave of emotions- in the last two years- those emotions seem to be more negative than positive, but I digress.

Everywhere I turn these days, whether it be social media, or public news media, it always seems like something negative is being talked about, and trying to persuade me to think the same way.

I’m not saying this is ALWAYS deliberate by the people putting this news out there, but especially this time of year when my feeds are riddled with political ads and campaigns, does it seem overwhelmingly negative. I can’t help but wonder if there is something deeper going on behind these advertisements and news pieces. What are these media practitioners doing to make me feel this way? That’s where the Elaboration Likelihood Model comes in.

To further explain, below is a YouTube video that I personally think breaks down exactly what the Elaboration Likelihood Model is.

To define it in simpler terms (for those of you who hate learning through YouTube), in an article published on

“The elaboration likelihood model seeks to explore how humans process stimuli differently and how the outcomes of these processes result in changing attitudes and, consequently, behavior.” (Nickerson 2022)

Ah ha! So, what you’re saying is- media practitioners are actively trying to see how I react to media?

Yes. Exactly! We as humans have the power to accept or reject any type of media that makes us think or influences us, as well as how we react to it. Usually, if we don’t agree with what the media is portraying to us- we don’t consume that type of media anymore right? Right. But, it’s already too late. Our minds have already been penetrated with the emotions conveyed to us through that piece of persuasive media.

Since I referenced political campaigns and media earlier, lets focus on that for this next example of why political media is directly correlated to the Elaboration Likelihood Model.

An article published through Baylor University blogs discusses how “fake news” directly plays on our emotions.

By appealing to the preexisting views of its victims, fake news circulates information that fits the worldview of the reader, regardless of its relationship to reality, thus generating confirmation bias and cementing a particular political reality. ( 2019)

For reference, below is series of advertisements reflecting different negative political ads from my home state of Pennsylvania.


Okay, that’s great. How do we combat the negative part of the Elaboration Likelihood Model, and get the good emotions out? Better yet- how do we use the media to influence people to make their own decisions?

Personally, I know I would use the model in a different light. Not every piece of media is going to be positive or negative- this I know. A lot of different media outlets definitely do a great job of reporting the facts, and keeping emotions or bias out of it.

For me, if I was trying to persuade someone to feel the same way I do when putting out a piece of content or persuasive media, I would aim to put both sides of the story into my media. Growing up, my Mom always gave me options. “Well if you do x, this could happen. If you do x, then that could happen. Here’s what I would do.”

I would do exactly what my Mom did with me when I was growing up. I was never pressured directly into what she wanted me to do- rather, I was given possible outcomes, what SHE WOULD do, and was left to leave the final decision up to me. But she did it in a way, that persuaded me to make the right choice by telling me what SHE would do. For me, when I’m trying to persuade someone not only in my personal life, but in my media presence as a practitioner, I use the same tactic. Give both sides of the issue/story, and leave just a sprinkle of my opinion, in order to persuade someone to agree.