Behaviour Change

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.

Friday, February 21, 2014

One foot in the door...

The foot in the door technique (FITD)(Freedman & Fraser, 1966) is a well used procedure which preys on a persons desire to be consistent; it consists of asking a participant to carry out a small, easy request which acts as the person’s commitment, and then follow this with the bigger, actual request that you really wanted them to do in the first place.

Guéguen, Meineri, Martin and Grandjean (2010) wanted to compare the FITD technique to another compliance tactic: the “but you are free…” technique. Telling a person that they are free to accept or refuse a request will actually increase the chances of them saying yes. (Guéguen & Pascual, 2000).

200 participants were asked to complete a 1 month survey about their selective sorting of household waste. They were placed into 1 of four conditions:
1) Control: Participants were only asked to to fill out a sorting book for one month.
2) “But you are free…” = Participants were asked to fill out a sorting book for one month, and told that they were free to accept or refuse to do it.
3) FITD = Participants were asked to fill out a 4-questions survey about recycling habits, and then followed by the larger request.
4) “But you are free..” & FITD: The same procedure as the FITD, but the larger request was followed by “you are free to accept or refuse”.

Participants were significantly more likely to say yes if any compliance technique was used than the control group. However using both “but you are free…” & FITD made significantly more people say yes than each compliance tactic alone.

This pattern was exactly the same for differences in the number of people who actually completed the survey; “but you are free…” & FITD produced the highest, the compliance techniques alone were equal, and the control group were least likely to complete the month survey.


Using a person's desire to stay consistent will get them to say yes, if you make them make a commitment. However it works even better when you combine it with other compliance techniques, such as the "but you are free..." technique.

Freedman, J. L., & Fraser, S. C. (1966). Compliance without pressure: The foot-in-the-
door technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 195–202.

Guéguen, N., Meineri, S., Martin, A., & Grandjean, I. (2010). The combined effect of the foot-in-the-door technique and the “but you are free” technique: An evaluation on the selective sorting of household wastes. Ecopsychology, 4, 231 - 237 

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