PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Excuse me, can I ask a tiny tiny favour?
Picture this. Your lecturer has given you a really difficult
essay to do and you desperately need some help with it. There are two ways to
approach this. As Freedman and Fraser (1966) describe, you could ask them to
provide a piece of research to get to started, and then later ask them to write
it for you. In this way, we can elicit compliance to a small request before a
significantly larger one (Foot in the Door Technique - FID). Alternatively, you
could ask them to do everything, have them refuse, and then follow it up with
the smaller request. This Door in the Face (DIF) technique has proved
successful in eliciting compliance (Cialdini, 1975). Both approaches use the
principles of commitment and comparison: in the FID technique, the person has
already committed to the smaller request, so the large one can’t be too taxing.
In the DIF technique, the smaller request seems incredibly minor and impossible
to refuse in comparison to the large request.
Harari, Mohr and Hosey (1980) tested these techniques, hypothesising
that both the DIF and the FID techniques would elicit more compliance than the
control condition, when students asked academics for help. Participants were
154 university faculty members. There were three conditions – FID, DIF and the
control condition. In the experiment, a confederate (acting as a student) first
asked the academic to answer questions for twenty minutes (FID) or commit to
two hours a week of discussion and paper review until the end of the semester
(DIF). This was then followed by the moderate request (commitment of six hours
work). The control condition received this moderate request alone.
They found that the Door in the Face Technique was the most
effective in eliciting compliance (78%) compared to the Foot in the Door
technique and the control condition. Interestingly, participants in the control
condition complied more often than those in the FID condition (see Figure 1).
It seems that the “softly softly” FID approach may not be
too effective in persuading university faculty members. Next time you have an
essay to do, go straight up to your tutor and ask them to write it for you.
When that fails (it will!), you could ask
them for an essay plan: a considerably smaller request. You never know, you
might end up with that first after all!
Cialdini, R. B., Vincent, J. E.,
Lewis, S. K., Catalan, J., Wheeler, D., & Darby, B. L. (1975). Reciprocal
concessions procedure for inducing compliance: The door-in-the-face technique. Journal
of personality and Social Psychology, 31(2), 206.
Freedman, J. L., & Fraser, S. C.
(1966). Compliance without pressure: the foot-in-the-door technique. Journal
of personality and social psychology, 4(2), 195.
Harari, H., Mohr, D., &
Hosey, K. (1980). Faculty Helpfulness to Students A Comparison of Compliance
Techniques. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 6(3),