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.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hal's Porsche Negotiation

These are a few scenes from FOX's "Malcolm in the Middle", where Hal is being bullied into buying a $90,000 porsche. Lets examine the negotiation strategies used by both parties. 

Firstly, the salesman makes use of the "foot in the door" technique (Cialdini, 1984) asking Hal to take the car for a test drive is a small commitment, leading up to the eventual purchase of the car. This technique is used again just before the contract signing where the salesman states "But Hal, you put your initials by this number" [indicates to a piece of paper showing the sale's price]. A wealth of research on small commitments has demonstrated that if you can get someone to agree to something small (i.e. going for a test drive or initialing a price), they'll be more likely to comply with a bigger request, such as buying a $90,000 porsche (Freedman & Fraser, 1966; Taylor & Booth-Butterfield, 1993).

After Hal returns from the best 12 minutes of his life, the salesman ushers him into a room jam-packed with fellow salesmen to turn up the pressure on signing a contract. A study conducted by Maule, Hockey and Bdzola (2000) revealed that decisions made under a high affective state and time pressure tend to neglect risks/consequences, both in the present and future. Therefore, the social and time pressure created in that room could land Hal with a hefty bill, with virtually no room for escape.  

Another negotiation technique used by the salesman are frequent contingent concessions. This is a type of concession that doesn't essentially cost anything extra to the negotiator, but can resolve the other parties reservations about making a deal (Walton & McKersie, 1991). The first and second concessions are made right at the start, in order to hook Hal into considering purchasing the car. In response to Hal's lack of money: "we have all kinds of financial plans available" and as a counter-measure against Hal's plea to a higher authority: Hal "I would have to call work", Salesman "Theres a phone in the car".
These concessions grease the transition from curious passerby to buyer. The main contingent concession comes when Hal still has reservations about signing the contract, in a attempt to sweeten the deal the salesman says "Lets throw in the new chrome turbo wheels and free car-washes for a year". 

All these persuasive and negotiation techniques destroy Hal's defences and if not for the luck of the flu, he would've most likely ended up making a bad deal.

Greg Vail - Blog 5

Cialdini, R. B. (1984). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, London.

Freedman, J. L., & Fraser, S. C. (1966). Compliance Without Pressure: The Foot-in-the- Door Technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 195–203.
Maule, A. J., Hockey, G. R. J., & Bdzola, L. (2000). Effects of time-pressure on decision-making under uncertainty: changes in affective state and information processing strategy. Acta psychologica104(3), 283-301.

Taylor, T., & S. Booth-Butterfield. (1993). Getting a Foot in the Door with Drinking and Driving: A Field Study of Healthy Influence. Communication Research Reports, 10, 95 - 101. 

Walton, R. E., & McKersie, R. B. (1991). A Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiations: An Analysis of a Social Interaction System. ILR Press. 

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