By Shannon Vicic Your children want in-line skates and will do just about anything to convince you to buy them. What kind of behavior can you expect from them? That may depend on your parenting style and your children's genders, according to Elizabeth Moore-Shay, a UI professor of business administration. Although many scholars agree that children play an important role in family buying behavior, little research has been done on the tactics children use to sway their parents' decisions. A preliminary study directed by Moore-Shay suggests that the strategies children use to influence their parents' buying behavior may be affected by such factors as the child's gender and how controlling his or her parents are. Moore-Shay and UI doctoral student Rajesh Manchanda surveyed 38 mothers and six fathers (representing 44 families) and their 11- to 13-year-old children for the study, which they presented last month at the American Marketing Association's Educator's Conference in Hilton Head, S.C. Among their findings: Boys and girls reported using widely varying strategies to influence parents' spending decisions. Once they identify an item they want, boys and girls first use autonomous influence strategies, such as simply asking for the item. These strategies encourage negotiation between parent and child. If asking for an item doesn't work, boys usually switch to another autonomous strategy, such as bargaining ("I'll clean my room if you buy me these Rollerblades"). But girls more often resort to strategies that anticipate parental resistance, such as begging, pleading, sulking, acting affectionate, or repeatedly asking for the item. Aimed at eliciting an emotional response from the parent, these one-sided strategies may provoke negative parent-child interactions, Moore-Shay said. Parents reported that girls used a slightly higher number of autonomous strategies than boys. The professor speculates that parents may not recognize the contrasting standards of behavior they unwittingly communicate to their male and female children. Other socialization agents, such as television and peer groups, may also influence the children's behavior. But the parents' responses also could indicate that they are simply unwilling to admit that their children use what may be less desirable strategies. Or, she added, the survey results may indicate girls perceive themselves to have less power than they actually have. Another notable finding: Children of authoritarian parents reported switching to negative strategies more quickly than children of more democratic parents. By being too controlling, authoritarian parents could be fostering unpleasant interactions with their children, Moore-Shay said. Future research on this topic may help illuminate these early findings, she said. Additional investigation is needed to determine how other factors, such as age differences among children and exposure to the media, may affect influence strategies, she said. The study was published last month by the American Marketing Association.