Foot-in-the-door technique (FITD) is a compliance tactic that involves getting a person to agree to a large request by first setting them up by having that person agree to a modest request
In a study in the 70’s, a team of psychologists telephoned housewives in California and asked if the women would answer a few questions about the household products they used. Three days later, the psychologists called again. This time, they asked if they could send five or six men into the house to go through cupboards and storage places as part of a 2-hr enumeration of household products. The investigators found these women were more than twice as likely to agree to the 2-hr request than a group of housewives asked only the larger request.
More recently, persons were asked to call for a taxi if they became alcohol impaired. Half of the persons had also been asked to sign a petition against drunk driving (which they all did) and half had not. Those who had signed the petition (complied with a small request) were significantly more likely to comply with the larger request of calling a taxi when impaired compared to those who had not been asked to sign the petition.
Examples in everyday use
- “Can I go over to Mark’s house for an hour?” Then your Child asks… “Can I stay the night?”
- “Would you sign this petition for our cause?” Then the person completing the survey… “Would you donate to our cause?”
- “May I turn in the paper a few hours late?” Then I would ask… “May I turn it in next week?”
Numerous experiments have shown that foot-in-the-door tactics work well in persuading people to comply, especially if the request is a pro-social request. Research has shown that FITD techniques work over the computer via email, in addition to face-to-face requests.