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.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sign this. Or let‘s get acquainted first.

In this blog post I would like to talk about a short clip from a tv show called Impractical Jokers. Here one of the jokers had a challenge to get the petition that his friends proposed signed. As we can see, he approaches the first passers by himself, with the quick initiative for asking for their signatures straightaway. Surprisingly, it worked, but what would the chances be if he would have tried it on more people?

Aune, and Basil (1994) tested the foot-in-the-mouth (FITM) technique. They carried out an experiment where confederates from three different conditions approached people on a university campus in order to ask them to donate to a well-known charitable organization ‚x‘. The three conditions differed in the way they asked passers-by: in the standard condition, the confederate just said hi and ask to donate. In feeling-state/consistency condition, the confederate asked how is the person feeling first, and after acknowleding that, carried on to ask about the donation. In relational obligations/consistency approach, the confederate asked the person whether he was a student there, and afterwards let the person know that the confederate was (also) a student there before asking for the donation. The results (seen in Table 1) revealed a strong influence by the FITM technique. Increased perceptions of relationship between the confederates and passers-by made them comply significantly more.

If the joker from the tv show would have contributed a couple of seconds to establish some sort of personal information exchange with the people, the chances of him getting the petition signed, however ridiculous the reason for it is, would have been higher.


Aune, R. K. & Basil, M. D. (1994). A relational obligations explanation for the foot-in-the-mouth effect. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 546-556.

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