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Educative Persuasion

Empowering Informed Decision-Making.

Educative persuasion refers to a method of influencing people's attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors by providing them with information, knowledge, and reasoning. This approach is grounded in the idea that informed individuals are more likely to make decisions that align with the persuader's goals when they understand the underlying facts and logic. Educative persuasion is a concept where the goal of persuasion is not merely to convince someone to adopt a particular viewpoint or behavior, but to educate them in a way that enhances their understanding and ability to make informed decisions. This approach emphasizes the provision of information, the development of critical thinking skills, and the encouragement of autonomous decision-making. Educative persuasion is often used in contexts such as health communication, environmental advocacy, educational initiatives, and public policy campaigns. It aims not only to change attitudes or behaviors but also to empower individuals with knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions in the future.

Key elements of educative persuasion include:

Informative Content: The use of accurate and relevant information to build a case or support a particular viewpoint. This content should be clear, well-researched, and credible.

Rational Argumentation: The presentation of logical arguments and reasoning to help the audience understand why a particular stance or action is beneficial or necessary.

Empathy and Understanding: Acknowledging and addressing the audience's existing beliefs, values, and concerns. This helps in building trust and rapport, making the audience more receptive to new information.

Interactive Engagement: Encouraging questions, discussions, and critical thinking. This interactive element allows the audience to process the information actively and personally.

Ethical Approach: Maintaining honesty, transparency, and respect for the audience's autonomy. Educative persuasion avoids manipulation, coercion, or deceptive tactics.

Tailored Communication: Adapting the message to the specific needs, interests, and comprehension levels of the audience. This ensures that the information is accessible and relevant to them.

The concept of Educative Persuasion offers numerous benefits to the field of education. Persuasion, in general, is an attempt to get someone to adopt a new behavior or change a set of beliefs, which can potentially influence a person's actions. In the context of Educative Persuasion, the persuasive effort is directed towards altering an individual's attitude regarding education or using education as a tool to achieve a change in behavior and decision-making processes. Educative Persuasion is a selected option for behaviors and attitudes change that foster empowerment and open new opportunities to learners. The application of Neuroepistemology and its scientific discoveries has identified the active ingredients of Educative Persuasion in promoting behavior change. [1,2] These ingredients have been used to enhance education in health, conservation, and behavior change, and various strategies have been developed for consultations with individuals seeking change. [3,4,5] The science of Educative Persuasion has enormous potential and appear as the one of major directions in future development of educational field.

One of the most prominent and successful applications of Educative Persuasion has been in increasing the number of women pursuing advanced degrees in STEM fields and succeeding in related professional fields. As a result, the trend shows an overall increase in the percentage of advanced STEM degrees awarded in recent years across colleges and universities. While more males pursue advanced STEM degrees than females, the National Academy of Sciences has reported significant increases in graduation rates among women, which have outpaced those of men. Multiple studies have shown that visual presentations of girls and women with images of women in STEM fields or with female role models can lead to shifts in women's estimations of their own abilities and increase their desire to pursue STEM degrees. [7,8] In this context, Educative Persuasion is continuously used to empower women by providing them with additional choices they may have inadvertently ruled out.

However, the association of persuasion with inappropriate coercive or manipulative use poses a risk of acquiring a negative stigma in the educational field. [9] For example, advertisers regularly use the science of persuasion to shape consumers' attitudes and behaviors to increase the consumption of questionable products. The use of persuasion in this context is deontologically questionable as it often infringes on freedom of choice or crosses ethical barriers. Advertisers often target teens by employing celebrities to endorse products or creating deceptive perceptions through group influencers. [10] Persuasion used in such ways is unethical because it sets up a false dichotomy for teens, making them feel they must choose between owning something that will make them “different and cool” or being less acceptable to their peers. Another reason this use of persuasion is coercive is that recipients are typically unaware of the extent to which they are being influenced. [11,12] This deontological risk is always acknowledged by practitioners of Educative Persuasion, and professional ethical boundaries are established with constant consideration of the cultural background and personal preferences of recipients. Our objective is to bring principles of Educative Persuasion into the context of education to help improve student achievement outcomes. We further hope that incorporating principles of Educative Persuasion into the education context will afford new opportunities for teaching about these techniques that influence behavior and attitude change. The outcome of these efforts includes, but is not limited to, protecting learners from being manipulated by these techniques in other contexts.

For this reason, use of decoy option in a classroom might serve as a good example of implementation of Educative Persuasion principles in educational setting. Recipient’s choice is central to increasing feelings of autonomy by any person. The Educative Persuasion practice indicates that offering a third less desirable option when a person is choosing between two, can impact their decision in predictable and important ways. In particular, the additional third option can lead to recognition of the initial two options as more positive and simplify the selection. This is referred to as the decoy option.

Let’s say, an educator wants to offer opportunities for group learning. The educator asks recipients to work in groups to develop a multi-step solution to a hypothetical issue. In prior sessions, the educator has provided recipients with two options for completing this task. One option is to assign specific task for each participant according to their desires to contribute to the group. Another option is to supplement the first option (i.e., individual tasks based on equal contributions to the group project) with an overall group participation. If, from the educator’s experience, neither choice get participants to form a productive group, educator can use Educative Persuasion and to offer a third option to improve how participants feel about the initial two options. The third option might be to assign the entire group the same tasks, no matter how much each participant contributed and what outcome is. After testing this and monitoring whether the original choices are viewed as more appealing after adding in the less appealing option, the educator debriefs and explains the technique of using a decoy option.

Key aspects of implementation the Educative Persuasion method in education:

Informative Approach: Unlike traditional persuasion, which may rely heavily on emotional appeal or rhetorical techniques, Educative Persuasion prioritizes factual information and evidence. It aims to enhance the recipient's knowledge base.

Critical Thinking: It encourages individuals to critically analyze the information presented to them. This involves questioning assumptions, evaluating evidence, and considering alternative perspectives.

Autonomy: The ultimate goal is to empower individuals to make their own decisions based on a thorough understanding of the issue. This respects the autonomy and intellectual freedom of the audience.

Dialogic Process: Educative persuasion often involves a dialogic process where there is an open exchange of ideas between the persuader and the persuade. This contrasts with more one-sided persuasive techniques. [13,14,15]


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2. Gaube, S., Fisher, P., Windl, V., & Lerner, E. (2020). The effect of persuasive messages on hospital visitors' hand hygiene behavior. Health Psychology, ahead of print.

3. Goldstein, N. J., Cialdini, R. B., & Griskevicius, V. (2008). A room with a viewpoint: Using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 472-482.

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6. Herrmann, S. D., Adelman, R. M., Bodford, J. E., Graudejus, O., Okun, M. A., & Kwan, V. S. Y. (2016). The effects of a female role model on academic performance and persistence of women in STEM courses. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 38, 258-268.

7. Schuster, C., & Martiny, S. E. (2017). Not feeling good in STEM: Effects of stereotype activation and anticipated affect on women's career aspirations. Sex Roles, 76, 40-55.

8. Kelman, H. C. (1965). Manipulation of human behavior: An ethical dilemma for the social scientist. Journal of Social Issues, 27, 31–46.

9. Cinner, J. (2018). How behavioral science can help conservation: Leveraging cognitive biases and social influence can make conservation efforts more effective. Science Mag, 362, 889-890.

10. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2018. Graduate STEM Education for the 21stCentury. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

11. Anderman, E. M. (2020). Achievement motivation theory: Balancing precision and utility.

Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61, April 2020,

12. Robson, D. (1, August 2019). The trick that makes you overspend.

13. O'Keefe, D. J. (2016). "Persuasion: Theory and Research". New York, SAGE Publications, Inc., 23 October 2016,

14. Perloff, R. M. (2020). "The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the Twenty-First Century". New York, Routledge, 15 January 2017,

15. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York Seabury Press.