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 25, 2014

What Chandler Values Most

In this episode of Friends, Chandler is trying to persuade Rachel to unlock the handcuffs attaching him to the chair in her boss’s office. He uses several negotiation techniques that start with him asking her to come into the room,

‘Rachel, could I see you for a moment?’

This is called the foot in the door technique which involves getting someone to comply with a large request by making them comply to a small request first. Taylor and Booth-Butterfield (1993) found that people who signed a petition against drink driving were more likely to accept the offer of being called a taxi home whilst inebriated than people who did not sign the petition. Through getting Rachel to make a commitment by asking her to come into the office first, Chandler increases the chances of Rachel agreeing to release him.

Chandler also gives a reason for why he should be set free, ‘she could be gone for hours,’ which further increases the chances of compliance.  Langer, Blank and Chanowitz (1978) found that simply giving a reason for a request to use the photocopier significantly increased the rate of compliance, even if the reason was as arbitrary as ‘because I have to make copies.’ Therefore, by justifying his request, Chandler increases the likelihood that Rachel will set him free.

Hearing this request, Rachel calculates his alternatives as well as her own and asks for reciprocal concessions in answer to the request, such as ‘you never see Joanna again!’ When Chandler agrees to the concessions, Rachel releases him from the handcuffs.

Soon after releasing him, Rachel realises that if her boss finds out that she went into her office, she could lose her job. This means that she needs Chandler to stay handcuffed to the chair to make it look like she has not been in the room and so she tries to persuade him to sit back down. She then starts to offer a number of concessions that she believes Chandler may want in exchange for being handcuffed to the chair again. Research has shown that frequency often trumps quality in negotiation situations. Alba and Marmorstein (1987), for example, found that the mere number of positive attributes leads to leads to a perceived sense of better quality. By providing a number of concessions, such as ‘what if I clean your bathroom for a month’ and ‘I’ll squeeze you fresh orange juice every morning,’ Rachel thereby increases the chances of Chandler agreeing to be handcuffed to the chair once more.

However, Chandler makes it quite clear that all that matters to him is his ‘FREEDOM!’ In one last attempt, Rachel attempts to ascertain Chandler’s interests and how he values them whilst identifying what she herself has to offer. So what could be better than freedom? Everyone knowing that you are very… ahem… well-endowed of course! By offering to spread this ‘generous’ rumour, Rachel creates value and trades it for something that she wants and values more – handcuffing him to the chair and thus keeping her job – so everyone’s a winner!

Alexandra Hampstead


Alba, J. W., & Marmorstein, H. (1987). The effects of frequency knowledge on consumer decision making. Journal of Consumer Research, 14, 14-25.

Langer, E., 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, 635-642.

Taylor, T., & Booth-Butterfield, S. (1993). Getting a foot in the door with drinking and driving: A field study of healthy influence. Communication Research Reports, 10, 95-101.

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