door-in-the-face technique

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A technique for eliciting compliance by making a very large initial request, which the recipient is sure to turn down, followed by a smaller request. It was introduced in 1975 by the US social psychologist Robert B(eno) Cialdini (born 1945) and several colleagues who performed a field experiment in which students were approached on campus and requested to volunteer to spend two hours a week, for two or more years, as unpaid counsellors at a local juvenile detention centre. No one agreed to this, but when they were then asked whether they would be willing on just one occasion to escort a group of juveniles from the detention centre on a two-hour trip to the zoo, 50 per cent agreed, compared with 17 per cent in the control group who received only the second, smaller request. Also called the rejection-then-retreat technique. See also foot-in-the-door technique, lowball technique.

Subjects: Psychology.

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