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Theories and Theorists

Application 1
Submit: Theories and Theorists
This week, you will submit the Theories and Theorists assignment from Week 3.
The assignment:
Craft a 4- to 5-page paper in which you address the following instructions and questions:
Identify two key theories in your field.
Identify the theorist and sources of the theories (key articles or books) in your discipline.
Describe the basic tenets of these theories.
Analyze the relationship between the two theories that you have found.
Explain why these theories are so important to your discipline and how they relate to the
research that you are interested in doing.
Include a reference list for the five “classics” or influential works you have found

Theories and Theorists

Different theorists in their quest to explain various aspects concerning life have
formulated various theories. A theory is an abstract statement considered scientific knowledge in
casual, axiomatic or set of laws forms. It is about those things that people feel certain about and
it tells people how things work. The two theories that this paper delineates include, agenda
setting theory and the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM).
John Caccioppo and Richard Petty developed Elaboration Likelihood Model in 1980. The
theory maintains that information processing during persuasion is divided into two processes
that are based on the likelihood of cognitive elaborations, where people think critically about
message content or simply respond to the superficial aspects of the message (Jae & Delvicchio,
2004). The source of the theory is based on the premise of how people change and form their

attitudes. Human beings process information or message that comes their way differently
depending with the way the argument is positioned and structured. The tenets of the theory are
categorized into two processing routes, which are the central route also high elaboration and
peripheral route also known as low elaboration. The central route of processing requires that the
listener think critically and it involves scrutiny of persuasive communication such as
advertisements and speech to find out whether the argument is worth or not (Jae & Delvicchio,
2004). This process is determined by the cognitive part of an individual. If the message
evaluated is convincing and well structured it may be received favorably despite the fact that it
may be in contrary with the original position of the receiver. Therefore, if the message is
favorable it will be accepted and vice versa. However, for an individual to process a message
centrally, that individual must have the motivation and ability to do so.
Peripheral route on the other hand do not involve elaboration of the message through
cognitive process but rather an individual relies on the environmental characteristics such as the
message presentation quality, the perceived quality of the source, the attractiveness of the
sources and slogans among others (Griffin, 2012). There is no reliance on evidence and a
message is rejected or accepted based on the external cues as opposed to thought. The
immaturity of the audience and the complexity of the message cause an individual to use this
route in making of choices. The most common influences that help people to change their minds
and actions include rewards such as money, sex and food. Others include humor, celebrity status,
and expertise among many others. Therefore, peripheral routes aims at creating a temporary
change compared to central route that endeavors to leave a lasting impression or change.
Therefore, under this model, persuasion is increased or decreased depending on the arguments

strength. If the argument is strong, persuasion is enhanced when elaboration is enhanced but
when the argument is weak, then persuasion is undermined.
The second theory is the agenda setting theory. Dr. Donald S haw and Dr. Max
McCombs advanced this theory in 1968 (Davie & Maher, 2006). The theory was conceived after
they compared salience issues in news and how the issues shaped public perceptions on how they
made election decisions. This theory therefore focuses on how media influences the way people
think, opinions and attitude about certain aspects aired through them. The premise of the theory
that media plays a key role in setting the agenda or the things that people discuss and things that
are considered as relevant. The two tenets of agenda setting theory are that media and press do
not reflect reality but rather filter and shape it. Media may not necessarily reflect the real things
but because of their powers and influence, they have the capability to filter the message and even
shape the information the way they deem correct (McCombs, 2005). Because many people
consume the message, they will believe in the media messages even if it is not reflecting reality.
Second tenet is that because of the concentration on few issues and subjects it makes the public
to perceive such issues more important compared to other issues. Therefore, it means that people
are highly attracted and believe in those media news that are aired frequently hence, it has a
powerful impact on the way people think and perceive reality.
These two theories have some similarities in the sense that they all endeavor to explain
how people consume the messages they are send. The messages that are conveyed to individuals
through the media are more persuasive and people believe if they are given large amount of
airtime. Media shapes the agenda and creates the reality about the world through its messages
that it transmits to the people. Because of the trust and the powerful nature of the media, people
believe in these messages and in most cases, determine the choices they make. Similarly, in the

elaboration likelihood model, people process information conveyed to them in different ways.
Information is processes through central route and such information is critically thought while
other people will be persuaded by the external cues of the messages such as humor instead of in-
depth thought. Therefore, these two theories are essential in understanding how the cognitive
part of people process information that they receive from various sources. Understanding, these
mechanisms is essential in ensuring that individuals approach to messages with a lot of cautions
and care.
These two theories are important in our daily lives and in my discipline too. The two
theories are essential in understanding how people process information and how they change and
form attitudes and opinions about various aspects in their lives. People have different level of
cognitive and they perceive things or events differently. Therefore, these theories can be valuable
in helping to understand how people process different messages. This then allows an individual
to structure messages appropriately to be able to enhance understanding. Agenda setting theory is
very essential, when one wants to influence people in a given direction. Through mass media, an
individual is able to influence consumers in a given way or to buy certain ideologies. In my
discipline, agenda setting is essential in persuading and influencing people to buy to my ideas
and opinions. These two theories therefore suit the research that I am intending to conduct. My
research is related to psychology and these two theories provides insights on how people minds
or cognitive functions when it comes to how they process information and make decisions about
various aspects happening in the society.
In conclusion, theories are essential in helping people understand reality and how things
happen. These two theories help in understanding how the attitude change and form through the
way people process different information from various sources. Elaboration likelihood model

provides two events central and peripheral routes that enhance our understanding of how
information is processed to persuade people. On the other hand, agenda-setting theory helps us to
appreciate the power of media in influencing how we perceive things that goes around us. Media
plays a role in influencing that which we think and perceive to be right or wrong.


Davie W., & Maher T. (2006). Maxwell McCombs: Agenda-Setting Explorer, Journal of
Broadcasting & Electronic Media 50(2): 358–364.
Griffin, E. (2012). A First Look at Communication Theory, 8th ed. McGraw-Hill: New York,
Jae, H., & Delvicchio, D. (2004). Decision making by elaboration likelihood model- analysis
journal and model, The journal of consumer affairs, 38(2), 342-354
McCombs, M. (2005). A look at agenda setting: Past, present and future, Journalism Studies 6
(4): 1-23.

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