The foot-in-the-door technique tested by Freedman and Fraser (1966) confirms that small requests are more likely to be complied than bigger ones. However, current studies have shown that the external pressure by subjects or reciprocal concession mechanism takes place in this technique, so we can realize that this technique is used in our daily life whether to persuade others or be persuaded by others so we can conclude that external pressure is often the cause of our compliance and agreement with the requester’s wishes.
Cialdini, R., Vincent, J., Lewis, S., Catalan, J., Wheeler, D., & Lee Darby, B (1975) carried out three experiments in which the subjects were exposed to three conditions. In the first experiment, they expected that subjects would reach more agreement if they were exposed first to a large request following for a small one than if they were just exposed to a small request. The researchers first request the larger favour and then the smaller one, designed three conditions to accompany it. In the “rejection-moderation” condition, subjects were exposed to the larger favour after they refused it, they were exposed to the smaller one. In the “smaller request” condition, subjects were only exposed to the smaller request and in the “exposure control” condition; the experimenters described the large and the small favours and then asked them if they would like to take part in one of the favours (control group).
The larger request consisted of proposing to subjects to work as an unpaid volunteer with young delinquents, two hours per week for two years. The smaller request consisted of presenting subjects with the possibility of working as a chaperone volunteer with young delinquents on a trip to the zoo, again unpaid, for only two hours one morning or afternoon.
This table shows the results of the experiment, which showed that people who were presented with a large favour and then a small one, were more likely to comply with the smaller favour.
In the second experiment, they explained that the pressure that people feel when they refused a large favour and were subsequently asked another smaller favour by the experimenters. They feel pressure to change their mind and so accept the smaller favour, feeling a sense of engagement. It consists of a reciprocal concession mechanism and the results depend on if the both requests are asked by the same experimenter or by different experimenters. The unique condition that changes in comparison with the last experiment is “two-requester control” condition which consists in asking subjects if they would like to do a large favour and after rejected it, the subjects were asked to perform another favour by another experimenter.
The results show that the group of rejection-moderation condition, who rejected the larger favour and were then exposed to the smaller one by the same experimenter, were more likely to conform. This shows that when the same requester proposes the small favour after the larger one, there is more conformity. By engaging with the requester, the subjects feel pressure to accept the second request. In the other two conditions, the subjects did not feel this pressure so compliance was less than in the rejection-moderation condition.
In the final experiment, the conditions are the same as the previous experiments with the change of the “equivalent request control” condition in which the smaller request was amended to be a two hour trip to the city museum instead of to the zoe. The experimenter asked them the smaller request as in the other experiments.
As we can see the results show that the rejection-moderation condition produced more compliance than the other two conditions.
It is highlighted in this article that experiment 1 and 2 tell us about concession, so it is not enough to introduce a large favour to a subject who then goes on to reject it, and then subsequently present a smaller one unless this second favour is considered a concession by the experimenter, as otherwise the subject will not feel pressure and compliance is not more likely.
The reciprocal-concession mechanism is another significant factor; after facing rejection with the larger favour, the experimenter feels pressured into presenting a smaller favour as an alternative, in the hope that this is accepted.
Cialdini, R., Vincent, J., Lewis, S., Catalan, J., Wheeler, D., & Lee Darby, B. (1975). Reciprocal Concessions Procedure for Inducing Compliance: The Door-in-the-Face Technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 206-215.
Gemma Fernández Álvarez