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Reciprocal concessions procedure for inducing compliance: The Door-in-the-Face technique

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Abstract

Conducted 3 experiments to test the effectiveness of a rejection-then-moderation procedure for inducing compliance with a request for a favor. Ss were a total of 202 passersby on a university campus. All 3 experiments included a condition in which a requester first asked for an extreme favor (which was refused to him) and then for a smaller favor. In each instance, this procedure produced more compliance with the smaller favor than a procedure in which the requester asked solely for the smaller favor. Additional control conditions in each experiment support the hypothesis that the effect is mediated by a rule for reciprocation of concessions. Several advantages to the use of the rejection-then-moderation procedure for producing compliance are discussed. (15 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Journal
oj
Personality
and
Social
Psychology
1975, Vol.
31, No. 2,
206-215
Reciprocal
Concessions
Procedure
for
Inducing
Compliance:
The
Door-in-the-Face
Technique
Robert
B.
Cialdini,
Joyce
E.
Vincent,
Stephen
K.
Lewis,
Jose
Catalan,
Diane
Wheeler,
and
Betty
Lee
Darby
Arizona
State
University
Three
experiments were conducted
to
test
the
effectiveness
of a
rejection-then-
moderation
procedure
for
inducing compliance
with
a
request
for a
favor.
All
three experiments
included
a
condition
in
which
a
requester
first
asked
for
an
extreme favor (which
was
refused
to
him)
and
then
for a
smaller
favor.
In
each
instance,
this
procedure produced more compliance
with
the
smaller
favor
than
a
procedure
in
which
the
requester
asked
solely
for the
smaller
favor. Additional control conditions
in
each
experiment
supported
the
hypothesis
that
the
effect
is
mediated
by a
rule
for
reciprocation
of
conces-
sions.
Several
advantages
to the use of the
rejection-then-moderation
procedure
for
producing compliance
are
discussed.
The
foot-in-the-door
technique
has
been
in-
vestigated
by
Freedman
and
Eraser
(1966)
as a
procedure
for
inducing compliance with
a
request
for a
favor.
They
demonstrated
that
obtaining
a
person's compliance with
a
small
request substantially increases
the
likelihood
of
that
person's
compliance with
a
subse-
quent, larger request. Freedman
and
Fraser
suggest
that
the
mediator
of the
foot-in-the-
door
effect
is a
shift
in the
self-perception
of
the
benefactor.
After
performing
or
agreeing
to
perform
an
initial
favor,
a
person "may
become,
in his own
eyes,
the
kind
of
person
who
does this sort
of
thing,
who
agrees
to
requests
made
by
strangers,
who
takes action
on
things
he
believes
in, who
cooperates with
good causes.
. . . The
basic
idea
is
that
the
change
in
attitude need
not be
toward
any
particular person
or
activity,
but may be
toward
activity
or
compliance
in
general."
Thus,
one
effective
way to
obtain
a
favor
is to
begin
by
making
a
minimal
first
request which
is
sure
to
produce compliance
and
then
to
advance
to a
larger
favor
(the
one
which
was
desired
from
the
outset).
It may
well
be,
how-
ever,
that
an
equally
effective
method
for
getting
a
favor
done involves
the
exact
oppo-
site
procedure.
What
would
be the
result
of
making
an
extreme
first
request which
is
sure
Reprint
requests
should
be
sent
to
Robert
Cialdini,
Department
of
Psychology,
Arizona
State
Univer-
sity,
Tempe,
Arizona 8S281.
to
be
rejected
and
then asking
for a
more
moderate second
favor
(the
one
which
was
desired
from
the
outset)
?
There
are two
lines
of
evidence suggesting
that
such
a
technique
would
be
efficacious
in
producing compliance
with
the
second request.
The first
sort
of
evidence comes
from
work
investigating
the
concept
of
reciprocation.
Gouldner
(1960)
maintains that
a
norm
of
reciprocity exists
in all
societies. Gouldner
states
the
norm
of
reciprocity
in its
simple
form
as:
"You should give
benefits
to
those
who
give
you
benefits."
(p.
170)
There
is
considerable experimental evidence attesting
to
the
workings
of
such
a
rule
in our
culture
(e.g.,
Brehm
&
Cole, 1966; Goranson
&
Berkowitz, 1966;
Pruitt,
1968;
Regan,
1971;
Wilke
&
Lanzetta,
1970).
In
each case,
re-
ceipt
of a
favor
has
been shown
to
increase
the
likelihood
that
the
favor will
be
returned,
although
not
necessarily
in
kind. While Gould-
ner
(1960)
speaks
of the
norm
of
reciprocity
almost exclusively
in
terms
of the
reciproca-
tion
of
benefits
and
services,
it
seems likely
that
a
norm
for
reciprocity governs other
types
of
social exchange
also.
Specifically,
we
would
like
to
postulate
a
reciprocal conces-
sions
corollary
to the
general norm
of
reci-
procity: "You should make concessions
to
those
who
make concessions
to
you." Such
a
rule
can be
seen
as
having
an
important soci-
etal
function.
Very
often
in
social interaction
206
RECIPROCAL
CONCESSIONS
PROCEDURE
FOR
INDUCING COMPLIANCE
207
participants begin with requirements
and de-
mands which
are
unacceptable
to one an-
other.
In
order
for the
interaction
to
continue
and
hence
for
common goals
to be
achieved,
compromise must
be
struck. Mutual conces-
sion
is
crucial.
If
there
is no
implicit prescrip-
tion
that
retreat
from
an
initial position
by
one
participant should
be
reciprocated
by the
other participant, then
it is
unlikely
that
compromise
attempts would
be
initiated and,
consequently, that
the
interaction would con-
tinue. However, given
a
principle
for
recipro-
cation
of
concessions,
an
interaction partici-
pant
could instigate compromise attempts
with
little
fear
of
exploitation
by his
partner.
Evidence
for the
existence
of a
reciprocal
concessions
relationship
in our
society
can be
seen
in
numerous terms
and
phrases
of the
language: "give
and
take,"
"meeting
the
other
fellow
halfway," etc. Much more com-
pelling, however,
are the
data which come
from
a
number
of
studies
of
negotiation
be-
havior.
An
experiment
by
Chertkoff
and
Con-
ley
(1967)
demonstrated that
the
number
of
concessions
a
subject makes
in a
bargaining
situation
is
significantly
affected
by the
num-
ber of his
opponent's concessions; more fre-
quent concessions
by the
opponent
elicited
more
frequent
concessions
from
the
subject.
In a
somewhat similar context, Komorita
and
Brenner
(1968)
had
subjects bargain
as
buy-
ers
against opponent-sellers.
In one
condition,
the
opponent initially proposed
what
was a
perfectly
equitable
selling
price
and
refused
to
move
from
that
price throughout
the
course
of
the
negotiations;
in
other conditions,
the
opponent began with
an
extreme
offer
and
then gradually retreated
from
that price
as
bargaining progressed.
The
consistent