Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Terry Tibbs Sells Surf Machine

King of negotiation Terry Tibbs is trying to sell a ‘surf machine’ to viewers using a range of techniques from his expert repertoire.

He uses the ‘That’s-Not-All’ technique developed by Burger (1986) by presenting viewers first with the original price of the equipment $3900, then with their special discounted price of £169.99 and then, without offering the viewer a real chance to consider this price, reducing it once more to £149.99. Here he is giving a fair price, but ‘I’ll tell you what’, ‘that’s not all... we’re going to reduce it again!’, ‘Does that sound good?’ This can increase compliance by implementing the norm of reciprocity. By the seller ‘giving in a little’ and lowering the price, he gives the impression of doing the viewer a favour, inducing a state of indebtedness and a want to reciprocate in return, preferably by purchasing the product.

Burger, Reed, DeCesare, Rauner and Rozolios (1999) approached 60 students and explained they were looking for volunteers to help at an elementary school carnival. They asked if they would be willing to assist from 11am until 2pm over 2 days. Before the target could respond the experimenter interrupted adding ‘wait a minute... all volunteer spots are full for Sunday... could you volunteer on Saturday only?’ This last minute sweetening of the request resulted in more compliance than a control condition without the TNA technique.

The scarcity principle is also employed. The communicator alerts the viewers that there are only 25 left in stock, insinuating the need to make a quick decision, and making the product look more desirable through its rarity. Lynn (1989) demonstrates how scarcity can enhance the desirability of objects. 408 students were primed to consider the expensiveness of art prints (they were asked ‘how expensive do you think art prints generally are?’) before rating the desirability of prints. The scarcity primed group rated specific art prints more desirable than a control group not primed with their scarcity. The author suggests that the scarcity principle works best when the object has intrinsic value. Terry Tibbs makes a point of the product’s intrinsic value by stating its original price of $3900, making a desirable and rare object look like a bargain.

Terry Tibbs' challenge ‘Are you man enough?’ could be construed as evoking self-threat in the target. The viewer may be inclined to repair their positive self image, making them vulnerable to compliance with requests (e.g. Kaplan & Krueger, 1999).


Burger, J. M. (1986). Increasing compliance by improving the deal: The that’s-not-all technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 277-283.
Burger, J. M., Reed, M., DeCesare, K., Rauner, S., & Rozolis, J. (1999). The effects of initial request size on compliance: More about the that’s-not-all technique. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 21, 243-249.
Kaplan, A., & Krueger, J. (1999). Compliance after threat: Self affirmation or self-presentation? Current Research in Social Psychology, 4, 178-197.
Lynn, M. (1989). Scarcity effects on desirability: Mediated by assumed expensiveness? Journal of Economic Psychology, 10, 257-274.

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