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

Would you reply to the junk mails?

   A “foot-in-the-door” (FITD) technique that increases positive response to a request from a complete stranger is a well-known compliance tactic that involves getting someone to agree to a large request by first asking him/her to agree to a small request. In this way, more compliance to the large request is obtained than when the large request is addressed directly (Cialdini, 2008). In the research settings, a success in getting a positive response at not only the first request but also the second request is counted as a successful application of FITD.

   In addition one of the important factors in this tactic is a ‘type’ of request. That is, FITD is especially more effective when the request is ‘pro-social’, such as giving someone a dime, answering a questionnaire, and persuading students to take a card designating them as organ donor (Carduci, Deuser, Bauer, Large & Ramaekers, 1989) than when the request is non pro-social such as business settings or sales.

   The other important factor is the ‘mediator’ of the technique. The existing persuasion principles are well adapted in our physical world (Postmes et al., 1998). The current generation however is becoming more and more active in online world and it is questionable whether those principles can be equally applied when the communication is mediated online where the impact of important persuasion tools, such as a tone of the voice and facial expressions etc. are largely eliminated.

   A research by Grassini, A., Pascual, A., & Gueguen, N. (2013) examined the efficiency of FITD technique in the least helpful condition by using the non-prosocial requests in online settings or in other words, they tried the FITD tactic through a junk mail on persuading people. in order to lure the first-time encounters Basically the experimenters sent out the mass e-mail each contained a first-time-purchaser gift voucher (where each different personal code is written) with some details of the products and service guidelines to the participants.

   But the requests for the receivers were varied among three conditions (one-, and two-FITD and control). The participants in one-FITD condition were asked to register for the constant new product newsletter, in two-FITD condition were not only asked to register but also had to complete the customer satisfaction survey once they finished the registration for receiving newsletter and in control condition were not asked for any request.
The dependent variable was the number of customers who made their first purchased and gave the personal code number previously addressed to the participants.

   The statistical result revealed that there was no significant difference between the one FITD and the control group but the difference between the one and two-FITD group was statistically significant.
Surprisingly this finding suggests that people even more favourably response to the bigger request. And the answer for the research hypothesis, whether or not the FITD tactic can successfully applied in non-prosocial request in the online setting was ‘yes’.


Carducci, B. J., Deuser, P. S., Bauer, A., Large, M., & Ramaekers, M. (1989). An application of the foot-in-the-door to organ donation. Journal of business & psychology, 4, 245-249.

Cialdini, R. (2008). Influence: science and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Grassini, A., Pascual, A., & Guéguen, N. (2013). The Effect of the Foot-in-the-Door Technique on Sales in a Computer-Mediated Field Setting. Communication Research Reports, 30(1), 63-67.

Postmes, T., Spears, R., & Lea, M. (1998). Breaching or building social boundaries? Side effects of computer mediated communication. Communication research, 25, 689-715.

Heejae Park

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