Monday, October 12, 2009

Age and Persuasion

By: Jaimie Ham

Advertisers seem to consider many aspects when choosing what audience to advertise to- where to place an ad, how often to show an ad, who to advertise to, etc. So much planning goes into one ad just to ensure that the message advertisers are sending out is persuasive to an audience that may be persuaded. Age and persuasion relate because, for many, age can represent how easily persuaded you may be. 

            According to Diane Phillips and John Stanton in their article Age-related differences in

advertising: Recall and persuasion, age is in direct correlation to recall ability and persuasiveness. “Younger consumers are more likely to recall information presented in an advertisement, but are less likely to be persuaded by that information. Conversely, mature consumers are much less likely to recall information in an advertisement, but are more likely to be persuaded by the information” (Phillips and Stanton, 2004).  Whether or not this is a correct observation, it does seem logical that age is a factor when attempting to persuade an audience.  Young people may not be as easily persuaded because of the knowledge they become aware of. Younger people know now, more than in the past, that many people, advertisers especially, don’t always tell both sides of the story. They may list the benefits of their viewpoint without listing the disadvantages; I think more and more people and younger ages are becoming more aware of this. Breaking it down even further, “young adults remember advertising better than older adults, and teens remember advertising better than young adults” (Dubow, 1995). If we were to relate this statement to Phillips and Stanton’s ideas, then teens would be even more difficult to persuade.

            In contrast, the article Dealing with Stubborn People, and How to Persuade Them, by Paul Hancox, suggests that both older and younger people are difficult to persuade. One reason that both these age groups may be harder to persuade would be because of “lack of understanding and knowledge” (Hancox, 2009). This information could be used to advertisers’ or any other persons’ advantage when attempting to persuade a younger or older person.

            When I think of age and persuasion, I have a combination of all of these theories. Just from previous experiences and what I feel I have learned throughout my life, I see younger people as hard to persuade, at first, but I think once they are persuaded-whether they have all the available information or not- then they will run with it. Young people can be just as stubborn as older people once they have a certain mindset. With teens, though Dubow’s and Phillips’ and Stanton’s ideas point to teens being less likely to persuade, I think teens may be just as easy or difficult to persuade than those older than them.  Teens may know that the whole story may not be being told, but they are also more impressionable at their age than other. I think older people have learned, just as younger people have, that many times, the entire truth is not always being told when someone is trying to persuade them. From the viewpoint of someone trying to be persuaded, I think I should always be cautious of anything that may be trying to persuade me to act on something I may not very much previous knowledge about. One good story shouldn’t persuade a person completely. People should, if asked to take action, review every side and every angle of the topic in question. Also, be aware when people are attempting to persuade you- you might be more easily persuaded if caught off guard.

            From the viewpoint of a persuader, I would keep in mind that age does play a part in persuasion. I would prepare my side as thoroughly as I could, and include arguments for any rebuttals that may occur. Also, going back to Phillips and Stanton, older people may not be able to recall information as well as younger people. I would use this information and adapt my argument around it. Whether this means repeating important points in the process or any other way to help recall, I would try to use the knowledge to my advantage.

            Overall, I feel that age and persuasion do correlate with one another.  Whether persuader or persudaee, this knowledge would be helpful in those situations.


Phillips, D., & Stanton, J. (2004, October). Age-related differences in advertising: Recall and persuasion. Journal of Targeting, Measurement & Analysis for Marketing, 13(1), 7-20. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from Business Source Premier database.

Dubow, J. (1995, September). Advertising Recognition and Recall by Age--Including Teens. Journal of Advertising Research, 35(5), 55-60. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from Business Source Premier database.

Hancox, P. (2009, January 5). Dealing With Stubborn People and How to Persuade Them. Retrieved September 22, 2009, from

Jaimie Ham
Northwest Missouri State University
Vice President Promotions and Fundraising, Public Relations Student Society of America
Northwest Alumni Magazine Fall Intern

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