Compliance techniques

Compliance techniques

Foot-in-the-door technique (FITD)

With the FITD technique, the real (and large) request is preceded by a smaller one. The FITD technique has been used in fund raising and to promote environmental awareness.

Study to use : Dickerson et al. (1992)

Evaluation of FITD

  • Compliance with a small request increases the likelihood of compliance with a second, much larger request. This can perhaps be interpreted in terms of commitment. Once people have said yes, they perceive themselves as committed and want to behave consistently with that commitment.
  • Much research done in this area has used pro-social requests and it seems that such requests are generally more likely to be accepted with this technique. It is more likely to be successful if the second request is an extension of the first one instead of being something completely different. Such results could perhaps be linked to the principle of people’s need for self consistency.

·         The foot-in-the-door technique is most powerful when the person’s self-image is related to the request, i.e. a request needs to be kept close to issues which the person is likely to care about and support, such as helping other people or protecting the environment.


The norm (or rule) of reciprocity

The social norm of reciprocity dictates that we treat other people the way they treat us. People are socialized into returning favors and this powerful rule underpins compliance. Lynn and McCall (1988) found that restaurants who offered a mint or a sweet with the bill received larger tips.

Study to use: Regan (1971)

Door-in-the-Face Technique

This is a technique used to get compliance from others (to get them to behave in a way you want) in which a large request is made knowing it will probably be refused so that the person will agree to a much smaller request. The real objective is to get the person to agree to the small request, which is made to seem very reasonable because it is compared to such a large, seemingly unreasonable request. In essence, the large request gets you the "door in the face" when you ask it. For example, someone might ask you to give to give 5 hours of your time a week for the next year as a volunteer to a charity. After hearing this offer you may think it is a huge request, after which you may be asked to, instead of committing to all this volunteering time, to just donate a small amount of money. Compared to the time commitment, this request seems much more acceptable.