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The elaboration likelihood model: review, critique and research agenda

Philip J. Kitchen (ESC Rennes School of Business, University of Rennes, Rennes, France)
Gayle Kerr (Department of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Don E. Schultz (Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA)
Rod McColl (Department of Marketing and Strategy, ESC Rennes School of Business, Rennes, France)
Heather Pals (Department of Law, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to review, critique and develop a research agenda for the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM). The model was introduced by Petty and Cacioppo over three decades ago and has been modified, revised and extended. Given modern communication contexts, it is appropriate to question the model’s validity and relevance.


The authors develop a conceptual approach, based on a fully comprehensive and extensive review and critique of ELM and its development since its inception.


This paper focuses on major issues concerning the ELM. These include model assumptions and its descriptive nature; continuum questions, multi-channel processing and mediating variables before turning to the need to replicate the ELM and to offer recommendations for its future development.

Research limitations/implications

This paper offers a series of questions in terms of research implications. These include whether ELM could or should be replicated, its extension, a greater conceptualization of argument quality, an explanation of movement along the continuum and between central and peripheral routes to persuasion, or to use new methodologies and technologies to help better understanding consume thinking and behaviour? All these relate to the current need to explore the relevance of ELM in a more modern context.

Practical implications

It is time to question the validity and relevance of the ELM. The diversity of on- and off-line media options and the variants of consumer choice raise significant issues.


While the ELM model continues to be widely cited and taught as one of the major cornerstones of persuasion, questions are raised concerning its relevance and validity in 21st century communication contexts.



Professor Kitchen would like to thank his Brock research assistant Heather Pals for her involvement at an early stage with the topic. The authors wish to thank the reviewers and editors alike for their wise counsel as the paper was developed.


J. Kitchen, P., Kerr, G., E. Schultz, D., McColl, R. and Pals, H. (2014), "The elaboration likelihood model: review, critique and research agenda", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 48 No. 11/12, pp. 2033-2050.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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