Peripheral Route to Persuasion: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:01 Definition and Example
  • 0:47 Two Methods of Persuasion
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Have you ever purchased a product simply because your favorite celebrity endorsed it? If so, you were influenced by the peripheral route to persuasion. Learn more about this phenomenon and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition and Example

Liam is a 7-year-old who loves to watch cartoons and play video games. While out grocery shopping with his mother, Liam sees a poster advertising a new vegetable drink for kids.The poster says that the drink will improve your immune system and help you achieve optimal health. Liam does not quite understand what optimum health or your immune system is, so he pays the advertisement very little attention. However, once Liam walks further down the aisle and sees another poster of his favorite cartoon character drinking the vegetable drink, he then rushes to his mother and asks her to purchase the drink for him, to which she agrees.

Liam was persuaded to purchase the drink by the peripheral route to persuasion, which occurs when a person is persuaded to act based on something other than the arguments or content of a message.

Two Methods of Persuasion

The peripheral route to persuasion was first discussed by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo. According to Petty and Cacioppo, there are two methods by which people can be persuaded: peripherally or centrally. The peripheral route relies on something other than information central to the merits of the product or idea being considered to influence someone's attitude or behavior. It is especially effective in instances where the person receiving the message is not very interested in the topic or when they do not have the ability to comprehend the central message.

In the example above, the message delivered by the first advertisement was that the vegetable juice would improve health and the immune system. Being a 7-year-old, Liam was not very interested in improving his health, nor did he possess much knowledge about the immune system or why improving it may be important. What Liam was interested in was cartoons, and showing him a poster of his favorite character drinking the vegetable juice provided him with the incentive he needed to ask his mother to purchase the drink.

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