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.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Charity Muggers

I was recently accosted by a door-to-door fundraiser and he used some persuasive techniques on me to try and get me to sign up to a monthly direct debit donation to the charity he was representing.

1) Bandwagon - After briefly telling me a bit about the charity, he told me everyone else on the street liked the work this charity was doing and had signed up. Research on 'the bandwagon effect' has shown that by implying that everyone else is doing something, people are more likely to be persuaded to change their behaviour to be more in line with the apparent social norm. For example, in a study by Reingen (1982), participants shown a list of people already complying to request (e.g monetary donations) were more likely to also comply than those not shown a list.

2) Rapport - After this, he asked me lots of questions about myself. Although he may well have been interested in where and what I was studying etc it is more likely that he was using rapport to persuade me donate. He then proceeded to tell me he was a student at Coventry. Aune and Basil (1994) found that when solicitors asked for charity donations on a university campus, by adding the phrase 'I'm a student too!' to requests, the amount of donations doubled.

3) Door-in-the-face technique- I told him that I wasn't really in the position to commit to the amount he was asking for on a monthly basis to which he replied 'Even 17p a month will help! Surely you can spare that?!' In doing this I think he was using the 'door-in-the-face' technique in which a persuader attempts to convince a respondent to comply to a large request which will most likely be turned down. A second, smaller request is then more likely to be complied with as it is seen to be more reasonable. In Cialdini, Vincent, Lewis, Catalan, Wheeler, and Davis' (1975) classic study, participants given a large request to start with (asked to chaperone juvenile delinquents for 2 hours a week for 2 years) were more likely to comply to smaller subsequent request (to chaperone them once) than participants given the smaller request to begin with. 

4) Time pressure - Asked if he could give me a leaflet and I could think about it, he told me the charity were trying to cut down on leaflets to save money so I'd have to make a decision now. I believe he was using time pressure to evoke compliance. Research has shown that time pressure can incluence the nature of conession making (i.e. make individuals quicker to make concessions) (Stuhlmacher & Champagne, 2000) and lead to heuristic processing meaning that decision makers may focus on the present rather than considering the long-term consequences of a particular negotiation (De Dreu, 2003)


Aune, R. K. & Basil, M. D. (1994). A relational obligations explanation for the foot-in-the-mouth 
effect. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 546-556

Cialdini, R. B., Vincent, J. E. Lewis, S. K., Catalan, J., Wheeler, D., & Darby, B. L. (1975). Reciprocal concessions for inducing compliance: the door-in-the-face technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 206-215.

De Dreu, C. K. (2003). Time pressure and closing of the mind in negotiation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 91(2), 380-295.

Reingen, P. H. (1982). Test of a list procedure for inducing compliance with a request to donate money. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67(1), 110.

Stuhlmacher, A. F., & Champagne, M. V. (2000). The impact of time pressure and information on negotiation process and decisions. Group Decision and Negotiation, 9, 471-191.

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