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 4, 2016

How To Potty Train Your Boyfriend!

I am fed up of my boyfriend not putting down the toilet seat after doing his business in my house.

Over the last three years, I have tried telling him several times, just to receive a "sure, I'll do it next time"...every time.

I even began placing post-it notes around my house. Despite progressively becoming more aggressive in nature, these did not have the desired effect.

So when the Behaviour Change course began, I knew that the knowledge from this would be perfect to properly potty train him. The door-in-the-face technique was successful, and after debriefing him we decided to make a comedic re-enactment of this tale. 

Asking him to clean my whole bathroom for mid-term inspections totally put him on the back-foot. He looked confused, laughed a little and when he saw that I was completely serious, made a really unconvincing excuse. Following this, when I asked him for a less time consuming favour: to "just wipe the seat clean and put it down" after he'd been to the toilet, he happily and pretty lovingly complied. This is known as the door-in-the-face technique. 

Evidence for DITF: 

Cialdini, Vincent, Lewis, Catalan, Wheeler and Darby (1975) found that, a large refused initial request, followed by another smaller request would receive higher fulfilment, compared to a single small request. (that explains why my initial "small requests" had no effect).

72 subjects, female and male were approached by an experimenter of the same sex on the university campus and asked for a favour. 

The requests were: i) large - dedicate two hours per week for 2 two years counselling juvenile delinquents and ii) small - dedicate two hours 

Participants were randomly assigned to one of the conditions:
  • Small request only
  • Rejection-moderation: experimenters made a large request, once rejected, they made the smaller one.
  • Exposure: participants were informed of both the small and large requests simultaneously. The were asked to complete either. 

Results & Discussion

The initial large request was rejected by 100% of the participants. Table 1 shows compliance % for the smaller request. 

Table 1. Percentage of participants who complied with the smaller request in each condition.
% Compliance
Smaller request only

Moving on from a large rejected request to a smaller one significantly increased compliance compared to the small request only condition. 

The % compliance for the exposure condition (25% shows that simply exposing to the large request does not increase compliance. The large request must first be rejected before the smaller is asked (50%). 

Cialdini et al's (1975) research is evidence for the success I had in asking my boyfriend to give up some time to help me using the DITF technique.

Millar (2002) also demonstrated the effectiveness of the DITF technique.

Table 2.  Percentage of participants who complied with the smaller request when asked by either a friend or stranger.
Type of Request
Compliance %

Table 2 shows, that when the technique is used by a friend, there is more verbal agreement as well as behavioural compliance compared to when it is used by a stranger. 

Millar's (2002) results reflect my success because my boyfriend and I are close. It would be interesting to explore whether one of my house-mates using the technique, would they been as successful.

So ladies, next time he sprinkles 
When he tinkles...
Don't be sweet...
Use the door-in-the-face technique!


Cialdini, R. B., Vincent, J. E., Lewis, S. K., Catalan, J., Wheeler, D., & Darby, B. L. (1975). Reciprocal concessions procedure for inducing compliance: The door-in-the-face technique. Journal of personality and Social Psychology31(2), 206.

Millar, M. G. (2002). The effectiveness of the door-in-the-face compliance strategy on friends and strangers. The Journal of social psychology142(3), 295-304.

1 comment:

  1. This is SO good! Love the GoT joke and that video is really awesome!
    You know you gotta train your man #sisterhood


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