People who focus on facts, statistics, and logic rely on the central route of persuasion. They consider the issue and focus on the arguments. If the arguments are strong and compelling to their ideological niche, then persuasion is likely. However, if the message relies on weak arguments or unsuccessful memes, then the targets are not likely to be convinced and will likely begin to counter-argue to dispute the claims and rally other community members against the message. Digital ads, fake news, propaganda, and other vectors that the user could spend enough time with to construct logical considerations over must withstand extensive scrutiny to succeed along the central route of persuasion [10].

Thankfully for the attacker, another persuasive vector exists. Along the peripheral route of persuasion, the strength of the arguments does not matter as much. People default to the peripheral route when they are not motivated enough or able to think carefully. Though they are less likely to propagate or mutate the meme, distracted, unbalanced, busy, uninvolved, or disinterested people consume the meme without considering its message. The peripheral route relies on cues that trigger automatic acceptance without much thought, rather than the robustness and resiliency of arguments. Impulse purchasing and most advertising, especially brand-based decisions, rely on this method. Billboards, commercials, product placement in media, and any other form of advertising that relies on an abstract association, such as sex, hunger, and beauty, depend on peripheral persuasion [10].

Advertisers, preachers, teachers, and other influencers are interested in more than consumption of their message. They need to impart sufficient motivation to alter the target’s behavior. The central route of persuasion causes people to think carefully and elaborate on issues mentally. They rely on their own internal arguments as much as those of the influencer. In fact, studies suggest that the internal thoughts triggered as a result of the source are more compelling than the initial material. What got someone thinking may be less important than how it got them thinking and what results they reached. Deep thought, instead of superficial consideration, results in attitudes that are more persistent, more resilient, and more likely to influence behavior. In short, the central route of persuasion leads to more enduring change than the peripheral route [10].

Persuasion along peripheral vectors produces superficial and temporary changes in attitude. Changing attitudes is easier and more immediate than altering behavior. Changes to behavior require people to process and rehearse their own convictions actively. Influencers may not have strong enough memes or convincing enough arguments to alter someone’s behavior, but thankfully for them, they do not have to because most consumers lack the time, attention, and discipline to consider each decision deeply and consciously. The peripheral path of persuasion is the default in decision-making, thanks to “rule of thumb” heuristics such as brand loyalty, “long messages are credible,” “trust the experts,” and others. One of the most powerful heuristics is trust in communal and familial opinion and choice. People vote for whomever they like more arbitrarily, and they support whatever their friends and families support [10].

Central or systematic persuasion is required for people who are naturally analytical or are involved in an issue. Robust and comprehensive memes and material are required to convince these individuals to alter their long-term behaviors. When issues do not merit systematic thinking, people tend to make snap judgments based on ingrained heuristics. In the latter case, where the influencer does not desire long-term alterations to behavior, they need only provide a palatable message and a mental nudge toward the heuristic that will direct the target toward the desired response [10].

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