Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

J. Don Ragsdale


This study explores the theoretical parameters of peripheral persuasion. Chapter one reviews social scientific approaches to the study of persuasion from researchers in communication theory, psychology, and marketing. This review reveals a bifurcation of the persuasion concept into cognitive and affective dimensions. After demonstrating a bias in social scientific research for the cognitive dimensions of persuasion, chapter one links the affective dimensions of persuasion with the concept of peripheral persuasion and emerging trends in rhetorical theory that emphasize narrative models of communication. Chapter two scrutinizes the distinction between cognitive or central routes to persuasion and affective or peripheral routes to persuasion in terms of The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion developed by Cacioppo and Petty (1984a). The chapter further considers the tenets of the model in light of recent criticism, of the ELM by Stiff (1986) and Stiff and Boster (1987). Chapter three develops a rhetoric of peripheral persuasion by placing the concept of peripheral persuasion in the context of emerging theories of narrative based upon narrative models (Fisher, 1984). The chapter further examines criticism of Fisher's model by Rowland (1987) and Warnick (1987). The chapter concludes with a discussion of how peripheral persuasion is consistent with non-controversial elements of narrative models of rhetorical theory. Chapter four demonstrates the explanatory power of the rhetoric of peripheral persuasion. Using print advertisements from a recent Benson & Hedges campaign (1987) this chapter illustrates the usefulness of a theory of peripheral persuasion for linking theoretical and social scientific approaches to the study of persuasion. The chapter also includes a discussion of non-print peripheral persuasion contexts.