Evocation of freedom and compliance : the « but you are free of... » technique

Current Research in Social Psychology 09/2000; 5(18):264-270.

ABSTRACT Many investigations showed that the semantic characteristics of a request could lead to more
compliance. A feeling of freedom is also a factor favoring compliance to numerous types of
requests. An experiment was carried out, in which the evocation of freedom was formulated
verbally, following a demand for money made by confederates. Results show that the verbal
incentive used (demand for money + "but you are free to accept or to refuse") increased the
rate of subjects’ compliance as well as the average amount of granted gifts. The semantic
activation of the feeling of freedom is discussed within the framework of numerous paradigms
of research on compliance.

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    ABSTRACT: Compliance-without-pressure techniques have been widely studied in North America and West Europe. Among these techniques, the “but you are free” (BYAF) is a verbal compliance procedure that solicits someone to comply with a request by simply telling a person that he or she is free to accept or refuse the request. This technique is interpreted with the commitment theory and the psychological reactance theory which are more relevant in individualistic cultures than in collectivist cultures. So, four studies compared the efficiency of the BYAF technique in collectivist cultures (Ivory Coast, Russia, and China) and in individualist cultures (France and Romania). As suggested in the hypothesis, our analysis indicated that the BYAF technique will be much less successful in more collectivist cultures. Such results underline the importance of considering specific cultural contexts in social influence studies.
    Cross-Cultural Research 01/2012; 46(4):394-416. · 0.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The “evoking freedom” technique is a verbal compliance procedure that solicits someone to comply with a request by simply telling them they are free to accept or to refuse the request. The measure of the efficiency of this technique on compliance with large samples and the evaluation of its influence on various requests was tested in the first set of experiments. This technique was found to be efficient in increasing the number of people who agreed to give money to a requester, the number of smokers who agreed to give a cigarette, passersby who agreed to respond to a survey, and homeowners who agreed to buy pancakes. In the second set of experiments in which the mode of interaction between the requester and the person solicited was tested, the “evoking freedom” technique was found to be associated with greater compliance with a request addressed by mail and through face-to-face, phone-tophone, or computer-mediated interaction. The third set of experiments tested the effect of semantic variations of the “evoking freedom” technique and the weight of the repetition of the semantic evocation of freedom. These later experiments that used various phrases evoking the freedom to comply were found to be associated with greater compliance. Moreover, a double evocation of freedom was associated with even greater compliance than a single evocation. The importance of this technique for commitment communication is discussed.
    Journal of Applied Social Psychology 01/2013; 43(1):116-137. · 0.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study compares the effectiveness of three sources of influence [conformity, obedience to authority, and the “but you are free to…” (BYAFT) technique] to induce smokers to put their cigarettes butts in an ashtray rather than dropping them on the ground. Conformity was operationalized with a sign placed above ashtrays. This sign mentioned that most people throw their cigarette butts in the ashtrays. The BYAFT technique was operationalized with a sign mentioning that people were free to throw their cigarette butts in the ashtray. Finally, obedience was operationalized by the setting of the experiment: the Préfecture symbolizing authority and the shopping mall, a “non-authority” setting. Results indicated the main effect of conformity and obedience but not the BYAFT. However, the BYAFT effect depended on the presence or absence of authority and conformity. Interactions between the three influence sources are discussed.
    Social Influence 01/2014; 9(2):83-98. · 0.46 Impact Factor


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