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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Would you like a cup of coffee or tea?

The Door-in-the-Face (DITF) is a compliance technique whereby a substantially larger request is first made to the person which will be refused (Cialdini et al., 1975). This is followed by a second less costly request which has an increased probability to be accepted by the individual than if it was proposed directly (without the first more expensive request). This is due in part to the contrast theory (Sanab & Isonio, 1980). The initial large request serves as an anchor point that led to the second request being perceived as less costly then when formulated alone.

In this study (Guéguen, Jacob & Meineri, 2011), the DITF technique was tested in 3 different restaurants. In addition, the contrast effect as an explanation for DITF’s effectiveness was investigated. This was done by manipulating the delay duration between the two requests. In France, customers often did not choose a dessert, and this DITF technique was instructed to be used by the waitresses. The waitress first asks if the customer would like to have a desert. If the customer said “no”, the waitress would use either of two different methods (randomly assigned) to make the second, smaller request. DITF without delay or DITF with delay of 3 minutes. In the DITF without delay condition, the waitress immediately asks if the customer would like a cup of coffee/tea. In the DITF with delay condition, the waitress waits for 3 minutes before returning to the customer’s table to ask the same question. In the control group, no solicitation for a coffee/tea was addressed.

Number of customers who order a tea or a coffee in the three experimental conditions

DITF no-delay
No solicitation
Male customers
55.1% (81/147)
38.2% (58/152)
Female customers
42.7% (41/96)
26.2% (27/103)

First, the DITF technique elicited more orders for coffee/ tea. Second, there were more coffee/tea orders when the final request was proposed by the waitress immediately after the refusal of the initial request (DITF without delay) than when a delay existed between the two requests (DITF with delay). This provides further practical evidence in support for the DITF technique. Also, it confirms Shanab and Isonio’s (1980) claim that DITF effect occurred due to a perceived contrast between the first and second request. Due to the temporal immediacy of both request made, customers viewed the second request as less costly. On the other hand, a delay removed this effect.


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. 

Guéguen, N., Jacob, C., & Meineri, S. (2011). Effects of the Door-In-The-Face technique on restaurant customers’ behaviour. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 30, 759 – 761.

Shanab, M., & Isonio, S. (1980). The effects of delay upon compliance with socially undesirable requests in the Door-in-the-Face paradigm. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 15, 76–78. 

Li Ying Fong

1 comment:

  1. Very good. You have described the study well and brought in ideas that were not taught in class.


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