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, February 20, 2014

Giving more to charity

The foot-in-the-door technique attempts to increase compliance by first procuring compliance for a smaller request and then moving on to something bigger. Many studies have shown that people who comply to a small request are much more likely to comply with a subsequent request than if there had been no preliminary request (Cann, Sherman & Elkes, 1975; Foss & Dempsey, 1979). Once we have agreed to the original request, our self-perception is that of a helpful and caring individual, therefore we try to act consistently with this self-perception in future situations. It’s a favourite technique for door-to-door salesmen, and charity fundraisers have started using this technique too.

 In this study by Bell, Cholerton, Fraczek, Rohlfs & Smith (1994) the effects of the foot-in-the-door (FITD) technique was examined as part of a door-to-door fundraising attempt on behalf of an AIDS organization. This study also considered reciprocity as a factor in the form of giving a small gift prior to issuing the request.

Five strategies were used in the door to door collection:
  1. Control subjects were simply asked to make a donation (no compliance strategies were used).
  2.  Foot in the door subjects were asked to sign a petition encouraging state support of AIDS programs before being asked to donate (meaning more participants should donate as they want to comply with the self-concept that has been built from agreeing to the first request.)
  3. Pregiving subjects were given a brochure described as containing "life-saving information”' before being asked to make a donation (meaning they should be more likely to donate in order to reciprocate from being given a brochure).
  4.  Pregiving/FITD subjects were given a brochure, asked to sign the petition, and then received the donation request (This should be no more effective than the control because the act of signing the petition can be seen as a payback for the brochure, fulfilling the need for reciprocity before a donation is asked for.)
  5.  FITD/Pregiving subjects were asked to sign a petition and were then given the brochure before being asked for money (this was predicted to be the most effective strategy at procuring compliance). 

  • FITD and Pregiving garnered more donations for the AIDS charity than the control conditions.
  • As hypothesized, the Pregiving (of the brochure)/FITD order did not differ significantly from the control condition in the amount of funds generated.
  • The FITD/Pregiving was significantly more effective at procuring funds than the control and the pregiving/FITD tactic, but it’s effectiveness did not differ significantly from the funds obtained for FITD and Pregiving. 

Percent donated

This study suggests that the best way to get what you want is to ask for something small first, and make sure you give someone something they need to reciprocate. This is why you end up buying things from sales people that you know you don’t want nor will ever use but, on the bright side, it means we give more to charity!

  • Bell, R. A., Cholerton, M., Fraczek, K. E., Rohlfs, G. S., & Smith, B. A. (1994). Encouraging donations to charity: A field study of competing and complementary factors in tactic sequencing. Western Journal of Communication, 58, 98-115.
  • Cann, A. A., Sherman, S. J., & Elkes, R (1975 . Effects of initial request size and timing of second request on compliance: The foot in the door and the door in the .face. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 774-882
  • Foss, R. D., & Dempsey, C. B. (1979). Blood donation and the foot-in-the-door technique: A limiting case. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 580-590.

Jasmine Smith, Blog 3.

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