“I See What’s Happening Here”: The Influence of Parental Advertising Mediation in Children’s Development of Persuasion Knowledge
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Examination of the development and manifestation of persuasion knowledge in children over the last three decades has clearly identified that children gradually gain a more sophisticated ability to recognize the persuasive and selling intent of advertisements as they socially and cognitively develop. Only recently has research begun to challenge the notion of age as an antecedent of persuasion knowledge, theorizing that age may be a proxy for an accumulation of multiple developmental traits. And while this further exploration has started to examine the influence of processes of cognitive development, there is limited evidence that forces of social development influence children’s development of persuasion knowledge. The present study undertakes the task of exploring the direct influence that parents’ communication with their children about advertising (i.e., active parental advertising mediation) has on those children’s development of persuasion knowledge and the indirect influence that occurs by way of influence on theory of mind. The present study assessed these relationships through an in-person, task-based and structured interview assessment of children (N = 126) and an in-person, online survey of their accompanying parents. The results did not demonstrate a significant influence of parental advertising mediation on children’s persuasion knowledge. The discussion examines the state of academic understanding of the concept of persuasion knowledge and the infancy of the quest to identify a robust, unified measure of persuasion knowledge that can be reliably utilized across the developmental states of childhood so that the field can more fully explore the role of social and developmental processes as an alternate influence to age.