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, April 11, 2014

Negotiating with children...have you got what it takes?

Getting the children at work to do their Maths and English courses can be a real struggle when they have 3 bags of haribo and what feels like a million blue smarties. However after doing this course about persuasion I have come to realise that I myself use so many of these techniques! So, instead of looking at a negotiation technique from a movie, I am going to use one of my really successful negotiation techniques that persuades these little terrors to do their work!

So here it goes...
Grace: Can you please go and get your folder from the tray so you can do your phonics work?
Child: No...I hate phonics!
Grace: Can you please go get your folder?
Child: No...you go get it!
Grace: Okay but I bet I can find it before you can!
Child: NO YOU CANT!
**both run over to tray and child desperately tries to find folder first whilst I stand there pretending**
Child: I GOT IT, I GOT IT!
Grace: Ohhhh no! But I bet I can race you back to your chair and get your work up before you can!
**child runs off desperately to beat me**
Grace: Well done your soooo quick! I couldn’t keep up with you! Now lets do some of your work.
Child: No I don't want to do it.
Grace: Okay...seeing as you are so good at races I want to see if you can race my egg timer and see if you can get these questions done before it runs out! If you can do this I will let you move up an extra space today!
**child shoves their headphones on and is trying to get going as soon as they can**



The consistency used in this attempt to get a child to do their work is one of the key things that I used. I have found something that the child has enjoyed (in this circumstance racing) and have used this as a fun way to encourage him to work hard. With the child agreeing to race me to get his folder, he has then unknowingly set up the consistency for him to then race to get back to his chair, turn on his work, and get him to do a large section of his work. `This foot in the door technique within consistency has been extremely successful in getting people to comply after making a small commitment, and then gradually making larger requests such as with getting people to eventually put signs up on their lawn (Freedman & Fraser, 1966).  

Throughout the whole of this exchange the child and I were giggling away as we were competing through millions of folders in the tray to find his. Also he thought that it was hilarious that I was willing to run across the centre like a lunatic to beat him! Humor is one of the most important negotiation techniques that I use with the children to encourage them to do their work (that and the fact that you get voted their best tutor compared to the other tutors that play the ‘I’m going to tell mummy’ card!). Humor has been shown in the past to increase positive affect towards advertised products (Geuens & Pelsmacker, 2002), suggesting that the same can be done here to get the child to view their work more positively.

Not only is it the use of humour that gets the child to co-operate with my negotiation requests. The use of compliments is yet another technique applied in this situation that has encouraged the child to keep doing his work. By praising the child each time he wins the race against me, the more the child enjoys the competition, and wants to race again to hear more positive praise and get more rewards from you! This is extremely successful, and Drachman, deCarufel, & Insko, (1978) has shown its success’ with its ability to improve a person’s ratings of being liked.

The use of making myself silly enough to run around the centre, allowed the technique of similarity to be used in order to get the child to comply with my demands. I was able to give me and the child a similar role, as opposed to my normal authoritative role as the tutor, which then encouraged the child to do his work in a fun and enjoyable way. This in the past has been shown to be an extremely successful technique as humor has been shown to increase the audiences liking of a product through mere association (Madelijn, Baaren, Holland & Knippenberg, 2009), and therefore the use of humor in this situation will encourage the children to associate enjoyment with doing there work.




Drachman, D., deCarufel, A., & Insko, C. (1978). The extra-credit effect in interpersonal attraction. Journal of experimental social psychology, 14, 458-467.

Freedman, J., & Fraser, S. (1966). Compliance without pressure: The foot-in-the-door technique. Journal of personality and social psychology, 4, 196-202.

Geuens, M., &  De Pelsmacker, P. (2002). The role of humor in the Persuasion of individuals varying in need for cognition. Advances in Consumer Research, 29, 51-55.


Madelijn, S., Van Baaren, R., Holland, R., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2009). Humor in advertisements enhances product liking by mere association. Journal of experimental psychology, 15, 35-45.


Grace Pattison. Blog 5.

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