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, March 13, 2015

"I'll be the dream"

A few weeks ago I was out with a friend and was desperately, and somewhat drunkenly, trying to convince another friend to come out and join us.  Having sifted through the bombardment of messages I had sent (mainly consisting of “come ouuuttt” – use of repetition perhaps?), I found this example of the that’s-not-all technique.
The that’s-not-all technique is when you make an initial, significant request or offer and then, before they have a chance to respond, sweetening it by adding another product or lowering the price.  This then induces a feeling of indebtedness and results in increased compliance.
In this instance, my initial request was for the friend to come out to Smack; a significant request for someone planning a quiet night in.  However, before they could reply, I added another offer of paying for their taxi home, followed by a further offer of also buying them shots, and subsequently the ultimate offer of me being ‘the dream’.  By incrementally adding the benefits of free travel, free drinks and outstanding company, the overall request of coming out is made more attractive.

Burger (1986) demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique.  In this study, the experimenters set up a table at a psychology club bake sale, on which cupcakes were displayed but no prices were shown.  The subjects used were 60 people who approached the table and asked the price of the cupcakes.  When they approached the table, participants were given one of two randomly assigned responses.  Those in the control condition (30 participants) were shown two medium-sized cookies as soon as they enquired about the price of the cupcakes, and were told that the package of the cupcake and two cookies was 75 cents.   The other 30 participants in the ‘that’s-not-all’ (TNA) condition were told by the experimenter that each cupcake cost 75 cents.  Then, before a response could be made, a second experimenter announced that this price included the two cookies, which were then revealed.  The number of subjects in each condition who purchased at least one cupcake-cookies package was recorded.  The results are shown in Figure 1.

The findings show that purchases were made by more participants in the TNA condition (73%) than in the control condition (40%).  This demonstrates how implementation of the that’s-not-all technique was effective and increased sales of the product, compared to when the entire offer was revealed upfront.  This effect has been explained by the norm of reciprocity.  When the experimenter offers the ‘special deal’ of two extra cookies, the buyer sees this as doing them a favour and thus feels indebted to reciprocate by buying the product.
With regards to my attempt, in theory, by gradually adding more benefits to the initial request of coming out, my friend should have seen it as a better deal, felt indebted to me and complied by coming out.  Unfortunately, however, my efforts were in vain and I was left to merely fund my own supply of shots and taxis.

Burger, J. M. (1986). Increasing compliance by improving the deal: The that's-not-all technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(2), 277-283.

Caroline Glascock

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