Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Economics, PhD

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Tarek Azzam

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Stewart Donaldson

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Leslie Fierro

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Melvin Mark

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


Data presentation, Data Visualization, Elaboration Likelihood Model, Evaluation, Evaluation Influence, Evaluation use


The ultimate purpose of evaluation is social betterment, which is achieved through evaluation influence. Progress has been made in defining the mechanisms of evaluation influence (Mark & Henry, 2004); however, little research has explored how the design of evaluation products trigger these mechanisms. Sister fields such as persuasion psychology can provide guidance to fill this gap. The Elaboration Likelihood Model, a dual-processing model of persuasion, provides insights into how persuasive information is processed and how this processing impacts attitude formation and behavioral intention (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). By translating the principles of the Elaboration Likelihood Model, this research explores how various data presentation conventions -- minimalist, embellished, and interactive -- impact evaluation influence. In the first phase of this research, minimalist and embellished data visualization conventions did not result in differences in participant experience of the visualization nor different interpretation or attitudinal outcomes; however, motivation to elaborate significantly impacted both participant experiences and outcomes. Additionally, engagement with the data visualization played a role in how participants processed the evaluation findings, with highly engaged individuals basing their evaluand-specific attitudes on the strength of the evaluation findings. The second phase of this research demonstrated no significant differences in attitude strength and donation behaviors between minimalist and embellished data visualization. Instead, donation behaviors were driven by attitudes formed after reading the evaluation findings and motivation to elaborate. The final experiment found that interactive data presentations promoted elaboration and the formation of attitudes based on the strength of the evaluation findings. Additionally, significant differences in attitude persistence and behavioral intent were found based on the strength of evaluation findings; behavioral intent was additionally impacted by motivation to elaborate and engagement with the data presentation. Finally, donation behaviors were driven by motivation to elaborate, engagement with the data presentation, and evaluand-specific attitudes formed after reading the evaluation findings. The results of this research demonstrate that the design of evaluation products and audience characteristics such as motivation to elaborate can be factors impacting evaluation influence. Based on these findings, evaluation practitioners can promote evaluation influence by seeking out opportunities to design products that increase audience involvement to support elaboration processes. The current research also identifies both risks to and opportunities for increased evaluation influence based on the audiences' level of motivation to elaborate, which provide guidance to evaluation practitioners seeking to maximize their evaluation's impact. More broadly, this research advances new directions for research on evaluation influence by providing empirical evidence for influence pathways, for data visualization research by demonstrating the importance of motivation to elaborate to visualization experience and outcomes, and for research on the application of Elaboration Likelihood Model principles within the context of evaluation.