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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just go with it

Just go with it is a movie about a plastic surgeon called Danny who tries to impress his new girlfriend. She really loves kids and after he accidentally tells her he has kids, she wants to meet them. So he turns to his loyal assistant’s two children Maggie and Michael and asks them to be his fake kids for the day. The following clip shows Maggie’s negotiation with Danny.

The first noticeable point and advantage from Maggie’s side of the negotiation is that she knows exactly what she wants and how she values it. She has done her research, she knows the cost of the acting class and that Danny can afford it. She also knows what he wants and how he values it (he will do anything to have fake kids to impress the woman of his dreams), by knowing this, she has created value on her side because she knows that he has no other alternatives (possible fake kids).

She begins her negotiation with the door in the face technique (DITF), she asks for more than she expects to get. By starting high, she creates an anchor so anything she suggests after the initial $600 dollars and 6 week acting class seems small in comparison; therefore Danny is more likely to agree to it. By starting high, she sets herself up to make a reciprocal concession which gives the impression she is lowering her offer and encourages reciprocity. Cialdini et al. (1975) found that hearing a high request first, more than doubled the rate of agreement to the second request (50%), than if the request was heard without the initial high offer (17%).

Secondly, both parties know their best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) Danny’s is $500 and Maggie’s is experience, this provides them each with a reservation price, the worst offer they are willing to take. This creates a zone of possible agreement which includes anything between ‘for the experience’ and $500. However, like in most negotiations, they do not know each others reservation price, this is only stated at the end where Danny tells Maggie that he would have paid her $500 and Maggie says she would have done it for the experience.


Other negotiation techniques used:

1)      Maggie states a reason for her initial offer, she tells Danny that she wants him to pay for the acting class because her mum can’t afford it. Justifying your offer is often more persuasive (Langer et a., 1978).

2)      Maggie requests more than one thing at a time, by negotiating multiple issues at once, she can simultaneously leverage the differences between her reservation price and his offer.

3)      From the offset, Maggie is already making contingent concessions, she says “I will do my own hair and makeup” which also encourages reciprocity.


So the next time you want something from a 10 year old, think carefully about what you have that they want and what your alternatives might be.


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.
Langer, E. J., Blank, A., & Chanowitz, B. (1978). The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of" placebic" information in interpersonal interaction. Journal of personality and social psychology, 36(6), 635.

Natalie Nash – Blog 5

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