ELM and attitude change

HIJRAH is a big word in the Islamic context. The word was first used to describe the movement of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mekah to Madinah. Hereby, marking the 1st day of the Islamic calendar. Nowadays it is commonly associated with a lifestyle change. Often towards a more Islamic appearance and way of living as seen in our local Malaysian celebrities.

Perhaps the earliest influence of this concept, as far as I could remember were personalities like Wardina Safiyyah, Misz Nina and Irma Hasmie. In fact, the external change that the public saw in them had been so consistent up till now. In between, other celebrities begin to emerge with their Hijrah story, each with their own stories of why they choose to cover up or become more affiliated to the Islamic teaching. Of course, there were few who had challenges along their Hijrah journey and reverted back to their old lifestyle. The latter is a sensitive issue which I personally think is best left between these individuals and The Creator. As outsiders, we don’t really know what they need to face or go through in the local entertainment industry.

Photo by Jose Aragones on Pexels.com

It begs the question.

How do we achieve Long-lasting Attitude Change?

Well, it seems that in psychology we have a reason for that and I will draw your attention to one theory in particular. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuasion.

ELM is fairly new in the world of psychology as it was proposed in 1986 by Petty and Cacioppo. The model explains that there are 2 ways in how persuasive communication can cause attitude change : centrally, where people are motivated and pay attention to the arguments, and peripherally, when people are influenced more by surface characteristics. It is evident in studies that those who had attitude shifts are most likely to maintain it if it was based on a strong argument as opposed to those who change because of a peripheral cue.

A lady who chooses to wear a modest outfit including a hijab will most likely continue to do so despite resistance if they understood the Islamic argument behind it. A lady who chooses to don a hijab because they looked prettier in it or just wanting to keep up with the trends are most likely not going to be consistent with it. This is thus an important concept of persuasive communication everyone could use in their daily lives especially when you intend to change a mindset that further initiates a change in behaviour. BECAUSE that link between intention and behavioural change is another set of theories.

First things first is to get the individuals attention to your argument. If they are motivated enough, they would be keen to listen to it and instigate the process of long-lasting attitude change. This usually requires a lot of personal effort on the individuals part. Otherwise, they might just make that temporary shift just because they don’t really care and had thought you simply looked pretty when talking about it.

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