Central Route to Persuasion: Definition & Examples

Did you know that many of your favorite commercials use the central route to persuasion to get you to buy products? Learn more about the central route to persuasion from examples, and test your knowledge with a quiz.
Definition and Example
Jessica is a sports fanatic and captain of her school’s volleyball and basketball teams. While watching one of her favorite shows, she sees a commercial for a pair of shoes that claim to provide extra heel support and increase the height of her jump. The commercial also provides laboratory findings from three independent studies that support the commercial’s claims about the shoes. Jessica decides that having the shoes will improve her performance, so she goes to the mall to purchase her very own pair.
In this example, the commercial persuaded Jessica to purchase the shoes using the central route to persuasion. The central route to persuasion occurs when a person is persuaded to act based on the arguments or the content of the message.
Two Methods of Persuasion: Central and Peripheral
Central route to persuasion was first discussed by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo. Petty and Cacioppo believed that there were two ways in which people’s attitudes can be modified. One method is through a central route to persuasion. In order for this form of persuasion to work, the person receiving the message must be motivated to listen to the message and be able to think about and comprehend the message. Since Jessica is a sports fan who plays two sports that require her to jump high, it naturally follows that she would be interested in shoes that would increase her performance in that area.
Let’s say Jessica had no interest in sports or jumping higher. How could she be persuaded to buy the shoes? According to Petty and Cacioppo, Jessica could be persuaded using the second method of persuasion called peripheral route to persuasion. The peripheral route to persuasion is when a person is persuaded by something other than the argument or content of the message. For example, if Jessica was persuaded to buy the shoes because she was attracted to the athlete in the commercial, or if Jessica was persuaded because she saw one of her favorite celebrities wearing the exact same shoes, she would be influenced by the peripheral route to persuasion.
Additional Examples of Central Route to Persuasion
Let’s take a look at a few examples of central route to persuasion:
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