Freedman, J. L., & Fraser, S. C., Compliance Without Pressure: The
foot-in-the-door technique, JPSP, 1966, 4, 196-202
Two experiments tested the proposition that once someone has agreed
to a small request he is more likely to comply with a larger request.
Previous studies had shown that external pressure can be used to increase
compliance. The more pressure, the more compliance. Yet in advertising
the "foot-in-the-door" technique seems successful, and had been
used in activities from Korean brainwashing to Nazi propaganda.
In the first experiment, they tested four conditions:
1. Performance - They asked a small request which was done, and later a
2. Agree-Only They asked a small request but didn't have them do it, and
later a bigger request
3. Familarization They familiarized the subject to the requester (no small
request) and later a bigger request.
4. One-contact They were only asked the big request.
The subjects got a telephone call with a request for some household product
info answers. If agreed, they answered 8 questions about soap use. The
big request was for 5-6 men to come and inventory all the products in your
Results were 1=52.8%, 2=33.3%, 3=27.8%, 4=22.2% . The use of a small request
did induce people to comply the second time. Note that merely increased
familiarity was not enough to improve subsequent compliance.
The second experiment tested whether people complied the second time due
to familiarity or to maintain consistency in their responses. In the second
test a different person without knowledge of the first result made the second
request. They were first asked to sign a petition for either safe driving
or keep california beautiful. The second request was to install a large
ugly sign which said "Drive Carefully". The different petition
was to test for unrelated requests.
In this study the requesters went to the homes.
The results were that all conditions had higher compliance than making
a big request without the small one, even if it was a different person making
the request. Furthermore, higher compliance still was found if there
was issue similarity between the first and second requests.
"It seems that once someone has agreed to any action, no matter how
small, he tends to feel more involved than he did before". It could
also be a change in attitude about saying "yes" to requests.
Remember, these were innocuous requests from a non-profit group with relatively
non-controversial goals. This technique may not produce the same results
for more political or more controversial requests.