Effects of Persuasion to the Career Plans of Teenagers

29 Mar 2018

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  • Lanzar, Rhea A. Pioquinto, Ynnah Kaelly S. Salova, Joselle D.

Abstract

Persuasion greatly affects the career plans of a teenager depending on the influences that surround the adolescent. This study shows that adolescents who were exposed to more confederates who gave them a lot of pressure were easily persuaded due to conformity. In addition, adolescents who were exposed to fewer confederates and in effect less pressure were less prone to persuasion.

Introduction

One of the most difficult and exciting stages of a person’s college experience is the career planning stage. Before, as a toddler, whenever a person is asked what does he/she wanted to be when they grow up, it is much easier to say that they wanted to become a doctor, a teacher, or a nurse since most of those professions are familiar to them. But when an individual reach his/her high school years, the choices broaden because they are slowly introduced to different kinds of skills and professions.

According to Ginzberg (1972), the first phase of career choice is the fantasy period (at about 11 years) where the individual's career choice is based on personal desires without considering his or her abilities, competencies, and availability of work. The next phase is the tentative period (11-18 years) wherein the person's choice of work is based on his or her capabilities to do a particular profession. And lastly, the person enters the last phase which is the Realistic Period (about 18 years) where specific careers are being explored and being narrowed down to be chosen.

However, even after specifying a career, the individual might make revisions in his or her earlier choices. This is because there are specific influences that affect the individual's interest or aspiration. These influences may be the parents' motivation, his/her peer group, or his/her personal choices and aspirations (Ginzberg, 1972). Also, one of the reasons why an individual changes his decision is because of the people around him or what we call the peers. According to McMahon & McMahon (1986), adolescents tend to change their decision of some things because they tend to conform to the people around them. This is because they see it as the right thing to do or that is the only way for them to "fit-it", and sometimes because the group members is much more concerned in the cordiality of the group (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2009). As a result, individuals are easily influenced where this influence is also known as social influence, where an individual’s behavior is influenced by others’ actions, belief, and statements (Myers, 1986).

In connection with this, individuals, especially adolescents, are easily persuaded because they are at the stage of identity crises. This stage was proposed by Erik Erikson in his psychosocial theory of development. In his theory, he stated that adolescents tend to explore his/her independence for him to develop his sense of self. And with proper encouragement and reinforcement, the individual will successfully pass through this stage and eventually will be able to adapt and live from the expectations of the society. However, if not, he/she will become insecure and confused about themselves in the future (Dacey, Fiore, & Travers, 2009).

Indeed, it is one of the most common problems adolescents face today. But, the question is, would a person change his/her decision in a chosen career when he/she is faced in a situation where he is being persuaded by the person/s around him. This study aimed to find out if students more likely change their decisions when they are convinced by more people around them.

In this study, we will show how persuasion is created to influence others in changing their decisions, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior (Callaghan & Lazard, 2011). This is through the use of conformity, which is a type of social influence that involves a change in behavior in order to fit-in with the group (Myers, 2010).

Method

Subject

Twenty senior students in high school, with ages ranging from 15-20 years of age, served as the subject of the study. Half were male and half were female. All of the subjects are going to college. Each one of them has a second choice on their decided course. And they were selected randomly at a school setting.

Procedure

The students were divided into two groups, consisting ten students each. And in each set, there are five boys and five girls. These groups have undergone two different approaches in the method of conducting the social experiment.

On the first set, the students were interviewed individually and were convinced by an accomplice to change his/her chosen career. In this set, the experimenter approached the students, while they were on their break, and informed them that they were having a survey on what courses are appealing to the students. When the subject has given his/her answer, he/she is questioned if he/she has a second choice of career. When the experimenter asked this question, it’s the cue for the accomplice to enter the conversation. The chosen accomplice was one of the experimenter, she was instructed to persuade the subject of the experiment in choosing his/her second choice in his/her career. Each of the interviews was tallied by the experimenter herself but was only limited to 5 minutes of conversation to each subject. If the subject did not respond to the accomplice, the experimenter terminates the conversation and proceeds to the debriefing of the subjects.

On the second set of students, they were interviewed but this time; there we’re more accomplices that joined the discussion. We conducted the experiment at the same setting. During this time, we approached them as a group. This group is now consisting students which are our accomplices. Each of them was also asked with the same questions. After asking about their second choice, the experimenter would ask if why don’t take their second choice, and that’s the time where the accomplices would agree to the experimenter and tried to persuade the subject in choosing their second choice instead. The conversation was also limited for 5 minutes only and if the subject does not respond to the accomplices, we terminate the discussion and proceed to the debriefing of the subjects.

Results

In set A’s (Table 1), 5 out 10 conformed. Four (4) out of 5 males agreed or gave a positive feedback towards the accomplice and 1 out of 5 females agreed with the accomplice. Results were analyzed based on the length of time or how long it took for the participants to response to the persuasion of the accomplice and what were the influences that affected their choice. In Set B’s (Table 2), 10 out of 10 conformed. All male and female subjects agreed in changing their career plans. This result was analyzed based on the reaction, period of response, and what triggered the participant to agree with the persuader.

The results described above suggested that students are more likely to change their decisions when they are convinced by the more people around them. The results also show that the period of response also affects the decision made by the individual.

Set A:

Subject

Positive Feedback

Negative Feedback

Male

1

 

Male

1

 

Male

1

 

Male

1

 

Male

 

1

Female

 

1

Female

 

1

Female

 

1

Female

 

1

Female

1

 

Set B:

Subject

Positive Feedback

Negative Feedback

Male

1

 

Male

1

 

Male

1

 

Male

1

 

Male

1

 

Female

1

 

Female

1

 

Female

1

 

Female

1

 

Female

1

 

 

 

Legend: Subject- Students/Participants

Positive feedback- Conformed Negative feedback- Refused to conform

Discussion

As stated previously, there are things that influence adolescents in changing their decisions regarding their careers. These influences may be the parents' motivation, his/her peer group, or his/her personal choices and aspirations. The results supported that these influences greatly affects the adolescents’ decision on his/her career. And this led to the conclusion that students are more likely to change their decisions when they are convinced by the more people around them.

This was supported by the experiment, where these observations were carefully noted by the experimenters. During the first set of the experiment (Set A), the participants show only few hesitations in responding to the questions asked and to contradict with the statement that was given by the accomplice. This was because the person did not receive a great amount of pressure from the people around him/her that required him/her to conform to the others. One factor that was noted by the experimenter was that, when the female students were asked on why did they not change their decision, their answer is that because it was their parents’ choice to take up that career. Other factors were because they have already made a choice.

On the other hand, the second Set of experiment (Set B) supported the claim that students are more likely to change their decisions when more people convinced them. This is because of the discomfort they felt while having the interview. When they were asked why they agreed immediately to the accomplices, some of them stated that they just wanted to end the discussion; others said that it was very convincing because of the details that were given by the accomplices’ interested them.

This study matched the result of Asch’s conformity experiment. In Asch’s experiment, there were individuals who became a subject of the test in which they were shown a picture of three lines with different lengths and they were asked to look for the line that matched the same height on the other picture. In this experiment, the target was subjected to be persuaded by the people around him in order for him to conform to the answers of others, without him knowing that the persons around him are allies of the experimenter. When the experiment was over, it was stated that most of the target have conformed with the others even if they do know that they we’re right. This is because of the Cognitive Dissonance, where individual experiences discomfort when he/she is being faced to two opposing beliefs (Franzoi, 2000). Although this study used persuasion in a different type of approach in which the accomplices had a direct or verbal contact with the subject.

With this, the researchers concluded that there are many factors in influencing a person to change their decision. And one of those influences is peer pressure or conformity with the group. In line with this, we conclude that the more people who influence an individual, the more likely it is for them to change their decision. We also conclude that adolescents are easily persuaded because of the discomfort they feel whenever they are in a situation where he/she are given two choices which he/she can benefit.

Thus, this study concludes that, people especially adolescents are prone to persuasion when they are in a group where the pressure to conform is large.

References

Feldman, R. S. (1989). Adjustment: Applying Psychology in a Complex World. Ginzberg, E. (Eds.), From Fantasy to Reality (pp. 466-477). Massachusetts: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Myers, D. G. (2010). Social Psychology, (10th Ed.). (pp.192-200). Holland, Michigan: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

McMahon, F. B., McMahon, J. W. (1986). Psychology: The Hybrid Science, (5th Ed.). (pp. 392-393, 625). The Dorsey Press

Gazzaniga, M. S., Heatherton, T. F. (2006). Psychological Science (2nd Ed). (pp.634-636). W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Dacey, J., Fiore, L., Travers, J. (2009). Human Development: Across the Lifespan (7th Ed.). (pp. 31-33) McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Callaghan, J., Lazard L. (2011). Social Psychology: Persuasion. (pp. 81-84). Learning Matters Ltd.

Meyers, D. (1986). Psychology: Social Influence.( pp.530-533). Worth Publishers, Inc.

Franzoi, S. L., (2000). Social Psychology (2nd ed.). (pp.190-191). McGraw-Hill Co.

Daiton (2004). Explaining Theories of Persuasion. Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life, 103-131. Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/4985_Dainton_Chapter_5.pdf



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