Ep 7: The Science of Teen Persuasion

Ep 7: The Science of Teen Persuasion

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Episode Summary

Jake Teeny, persuasion researcher and author of the immensely popular course “The Psychology of Persuasion” explains what to do when you need to persuade your teen to do what you are asking. Use these tactics to be more influential in every parent-teen interaction.

Full Show Notes

Does it ever seem like your teen purposely does the exact opposite of what you ask? This is a perfectly normal part of adolescence and the experts say not to worry about it. But, let’s face it, sometimes as a parent you really do need to be able to persuade your teen to do what you are asking. How can parents be more influential? In this episode I got some answers from persuasion researcher Jake Teeny.

Jake has published a number of studies on persuasion and has even created a free online course called The Science of Persuasion to teach research-based influence techniques. So this guy knows what he’s talking about. He explained to me that there are two different routes through which people can be persuaded. If you want your teenager to form a lasting attitude as a result of your persuasive attempt, then you want to persuade through the central route. This means that you need to get your teen to invest some energy and carefully consider your message.

How do you make sure this happens?

Jake told me there are two factors: motivation and ability. Your teen has to be both motivated and able to carefully consider what you are saying. Most likely your teen has the ability unless he or she is really tired or feeling particularly lazy. So Jake taught me some strategies to increase motivation. For instance, he explained how to frame a message in terms of your teen’s values so that he or she will view it as more self-relevant and will be more motivated to consider it.

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Parenting Scripts

Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen

1. Address reactance head-on with an autonomy affirmation

“Hey, I’m your parent but you’re an independent adult. You’re free to make the decisions you want to make. I’m going to provide my advice and guidance.”

-Jake Teeny

2.  Affirm your teenager’s independence:

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3.  Voice a common feeling to connect with your teen:

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4.  Buy some time for your teen’s emotions to cool off:

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5.  Get your teen to do a chore by offering choices, rather than directing:

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Workbook Exercises

Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview

1.  Uncover the Aspects of Your Teen’s Identity:

Persuasion expert Jake Teeny taught me all about the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion. He revealed that we need to make our message highly self-relevant so that our teenager will think about it deeply. This will give your message the best chance of being internalized by your teen. The first step, Jake said, is to think about what things currently make up your teenager’s identity. What are your teen’s values? Spend a few minutes writing down as many as possible below and then circle the 2-3 values that seem to best represent your teen. Here are some questions to help you get started. What are the themes of some of your teen’s favorite movies and shows? How would your teen describe their 3-4 best friends? What does your teen like most about themself? Who are your teen’s heroes and what qualities do they seem to admire in the people they look up to?

About Jake Teeny

Already with an M.A. in social psychology, Jake Teeny is currently pursuing his PhD at Ohio State University. His research largely focuses on the psychology of persuasion, having published multiple chapters and empirical articles on the topic.

Jake is the founder of www.everydaypsych.com, where he keeps a weekly blog on fascinating topics in social psychology. Additionally, he has written for international outlets such as Noba Psychology and Go Highbrow, where his courses on Attraction Science and The Psychology of Persuasion have become two of the more popular series.

In addition to science, Jake loves to write fiction, and since 2013, he has published over 20 short stories in literary magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post as well as placed nationally in short story competitions. If you would like to read more about his research or his fiction, head to www.everydaypsych.com