The Psychology of Persuasion
Plan of School Event by Psychological Theme
Topic and Event
Among the huge range of psychological themes, in order to bring an event to school it is necessary to choose a topic not too theoretical. At least one goal is to evoke student’s interest in Psychology. A good way to do so is to try to link already existing knowledge with new views and facts.
I chose as a topic “The Psychology of Persuasion” because I think it’s a popular opinion among people and already among students in school that as a psychologist you are able to “read one’s mind” or to influence thinking and behaviour of people. Introducing students to Psychology as a science may change their opinion. That’s why during the school event it is important to point out psychological research methods and findings and compare them to the popular knowledge about psychology.
Bringing Psychology to school is showing that we talk about a very unique science, interesting and widespread.
The school event I planned for students from the age of 15 at least comprises a topic related experiment, in which the students should participate, plus two or three lessons to talk about research, some phenomena and findings concerning “The Psychology of Persuasion”, summed up and shortened as “Cialdini’s Weapons”.
I am referring to Robert B. Cialdini (Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1999, 2nd edition)) and several scientific articles (see Sources). 1. The Experiment1
One approach to understanding psychological phenomena is participation in an experiment. Let the students being object of psychological research allows a deeper insight into these phenomena. Moreover it gives them the chance to work with real data afterwards.
The experiment or quasi-experiment should take place before the lessons in which the students will get all the information about the psychological topic. Furthermore, as scientific work requires, students should not be aware of the fact that they are part of a psychological experiment. It should occur as a simple survey, taking place in school, carried out by one or two interviewers. For these matters no special facilities are required. Students can be interviewed on the floors of the school, in front of their classrooms for example. Not only students who will later on participate in the lessons can be interviewed, but to collect an amount of data it can be necessary to let other students participate in the survey, too.
Concerning the contents the experiment should refer to the psychological topics that students will get to know in the following lessons. One phenomenon easily to put into an experiment with the above described facilities is the “Door-in-the-Face” technique (see 2.1.1). Using a simple 2x2 design it is possible to compare results of one experimental group using this technique to the results of one control group. One can imagine the following scenario: In the experimental condition students are asked for a huge favour, e.g. “Next month there will be some charity events taking place in school every Saturday afternoon. We need volunteering students to help on
all four Saturdays. Do you want to participate?”. If the students refuse, they are asked for a moderate favour, e.g. “Do you want to volunteer on one of the four Saturdays?”. The percentage of students who agree on the second request is the dependent variable (dv1). In the control group the scenario could be as follows: Students are asked only a moderate favour, e.g. “Next month there will be some charity events taking place in school every Saturday afternoon. We need volunteering students to help on one of these four Saturdays. Do you want to participate?” Again the percentage of students who agree on this request is the dependent variable (dv2). In fact it is not a real experiment because the scientific requirements for an experiment are not fulfilled. In
order to make the text more understandable I’m using the term “experiment”. 1
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