Battling Temptation

Many parents and teenagers, while in a cold, rational, Dr. Jekyll state, tend to believe that the mere promise of abstinence – commonly known as “Just say no” – is sufficient protection against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

A better strategy for those who want to guarantee that teenagers avoid sex, is to teach teenagers that they must walk away from the fire of passion before they are close enough to be drawn in. Accepting this advice might not be easy, but our results suggest that it is easier for them to fight temptation before it arises than after it has started to lure them in. In other words, avoiding temptation altogether is easier than overcoming it.

Either we can teach them how to say no before any temptation takes hold, and before a situation becomes impossible to resist; or alternatively, we can get them prepared to deal with the consequences of saying yes in the heat of passion.

One thing is sure: if we don’t teach our young people how to deal with sex when they are half out of their minds, we are not only fooling them; we’re fooling ourselves as well. Whatever lessons we teach them, we need to help them understand that they will react differently when they are calm and cold from when their hormones are raging at fever pitch (and of course the same also applies to our own behavior).

Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational