The foot-in-the-door technique is a very commonly used theory of compliance and persuasion in social psychology. In this PsycholoGenie article, we will understand the basis of how this theory works and provide examples of the same.
The exact opposite theory to the foot-in-the-door technique is the door-in-the-face technique, where a bigger request is followed up by a smaller one.
Have you ever met someone who has the skill of getting people to comply to their requests? It may seem like an impossible task to someone who is a bystander, but somehow these people manage to get others to agree to their point of view or requests made. How do these people manage to do this? Most often, they employ the different methods of compliance and persuasion. While there are several methods that can be made use of thus, one of the most common, and effective ones is the foot-in-the-door technique.
In this PsycholoGenie article, we will go into the details of the very interesting workings of the foot-in-the-door phenomenon and provide examples of the same.
The persuader makes a small request that is relatively simple enough to find agreement for, and once that request has been agreed to, an even bigger request is made. The chances of the subject agreeing to a large, cumbersome, or difficult request if asked in isolation are always less, hence, the persuader first gets him to agree to a comparatively smaller request and follows it up with a bigger request. The interesting thing is that the persuader can get the subject to agree to successively bigger and more difficult requests once he has gotten him to agree to the initial one.
The success of the successive requests largely depends on the fact that the consecutive requests are an extension of the initial, smaller request and not something completely different. So also, the same persuader has to make the second request as well.
To take a real-life example of the FITD phenomenon, let’s say that Boni wants Chloe to take care of her dog for the whole day, but she knows that there are chances she will be turned down if she makes this request. So she’ll start by asking if Chloe would come over and look after her dog for about an hour while she goes to the market. Once Chloe agrees and comes over, Boni asks her whether she would feed her dog as well. Then Boni calls her from the market and says that she’s stuck in traffic and she will be delayed, and requests her to take her dog for a walk. The requests could go on piling with things like ‘Could you bathe the dog once you are back from the walk’ or ‘Could you play catch with him while I’m back’. Also read about the door in the face technique, which is the exact opposite of this.
So also, if the requests are found to be pro-social in nature, the chances of success are found to be much higher. That, as well as the need for consistency that the subject exhibits.
52.8% of people from the 1st group agreed to the bigger request.
33.3% of people from the 2nd group agreed to the bigger request.
27.8% of people from the 3rd group agreed to the bigger request.
22.2% of people from the 4th group agreed to the bigger request.
This proved that the subjects were more likely to agree to the second, bigger request once they had agreed to the smaller request.
Small Request – Can I borrow the car for the evening?
Big Request – Can I use the car for a road trip for 5 days?
Small Request – Can I go over to Sara’s house?
Big Request – Sara is going to the mall, can I go with her?
Bigger Request – Can I borrow money to visit the game arena and food court at the mall?
Even Bigger Request – Can you come pick me up from the mall?
Small Request – Can you help me move my couch to the new apartment?
Big Request – Can you help me move all my furniture to the new apartment?
Small Request – Can you come to work for an hour on the weekend?
Big Request – Can you put in an entire day over the weekend?
Small Request – Can I go for a friend’s party on Saturday night?
Big Request – Can I go to Vegas for the said friend’s bachelor party?
Even though the probability of success of the bigger request is said to increase if the said request is to do with a social cause, it is pretty clear that this technique is rather commonly used in our daily lives for the most mundane reasons. The ease with which this compliance technique can be carried out speaks volumes of its success rate.