Foot in the door technique (A guide)

Foot in the door technique

In this article, we’ll describe “Foot In The Door Technique”, self-perception and consistency, foot in the door as a persuasive technique, it’s limitations and the psychology behind the technique. 

FOOT IN THE DOOR TECHNIQUE:

Foot in the door technique is a tactic in which the person aims in getting another person to agree to a large request, by having them agree to a modest request first. This technique works by creating a connection between the two parties.

Foot in the door technique (A guide)

History:

Johnathan Freedman and Scott Fraser in 1966, first coined this term The Foot in the Door Technique (FITD), although at that time there was some controversy on whether the self-perception process was similar to that of FITD.

The foot-in-the-door (FITD) technique is a strategy which is generally used to make people agree to a particular action and which is based on the idea that if the respondent complies with a small initial request, they will likely to agree to a later request as well, which might not be possible if they had been asked outrightly.

SELF-PERCEPTION AND CONSISTENCY:

The foot-in-the-door technique builds in the relationship between the two parties, ie. the requester and the subject, by making more demanding requests. Usually, it has been seen that a salesperson uses the foot-in-the-door technique, by first engaging in the ‘small talk’ with the customer if they need something in particular, and if a person is engaged, then it becomes difficult for the person to turn down the request for a larger commitment.

The self-perception theory which was proposed by social psychologist Daryl Bem also derived from the same concept, that is, our own opinions and actions are influenced by the way in which we perceive ourselves as acting. People comply with a small initial request as it is easier than refusing and confrontation. This makes us feel that we have done a favor for the other person, leading to the self-perception that we are well-meaning or charitable. Furthermore, we tend to agree to larger requests in order to show behavior that is consistent with this perception of ourselves. 

There was an experiment conducted to see the need to act consistently with past behavior in which a group of participants was questioned regarding their religious beliefs. Those participants who were reminded of their past religious beliefs prior o questioning reported more consistent beliefs when compared to another group (Zanna, Olson and Fazio, 1981). 

Foot in the door technique (A guide)

FOOT-IN-THE-DOOR AS A PERSUASIVE TECHNIQUE:

The foot-in-the-door (FITD) technique is a strategy which is persuasive enough to make people agree to a particular action and which is based on the idea that if the respondent complies with a small initial request, they will likely to agree to a later request as well, which might not be possible if they had been asked outrightly.

Usually, salesperson uses this technique as a sales tactic to gain a good outcome by persuading customers to commit to a purchase. First, they try to ask the customers about their needs and if the person starts communicating then they use their charm and the foot-in-the-door technique to persuade the potential customers to commit to a purchase.

Sometimes charity programs as well use the foot-in-the-door technique in raising funds. At first, they try and ask to donate a small amount each month to a cause and then later may ask if they would be willing to increase the regular contribution. This way the people tend to increase their contribution as they can’t deny the request.

Foot in the door technique (A guide)

Applications:

As we have encountered so far the uses of the foot-in-the-door technique in selling and charities, it still remains a common method of persuasion and is generally used to convince people to agree to a range of behaviors which they might refuse otherwise. 

  • It is used in the online stores when we see the lists of the products that we have previously browsed on the website to remind ourselves of making a purchase of the item we want. They make a small request of our email address to get the latest newsletter, by which they hope that such people who provide their email address might later agree to the more significant action of making a purchase.
  • Door-to-door salesperson and in busy streets salesperson have been seen asking the passing by customers a small question to start a conversation, they start to sell the items of the customers need in a cheaper rate to grab their attention and once they are all on board they bring their best pieces of the higher rate, which may or may not be of customer’s desires to make more sale. 
Foot in the door technique (A guide)

LIMITATIONS:

  • The scale of requests should and must be proportionate.
  • The first request should be significant enough for a person to develop the self-perception and should be of the other person’s interest and not so large that the other person ends up in refusing it.
  • Another method known as the door-in-the-face technique which is also a persuasive method takes the opposite approach in making requests, it involves making a large request from the outset which is sometimes so demanding that the subject end up refusing it then a more realistic request is made to which the person becomes more inclined to agree. 
  • An example of this technique is, a shopkeeper showing a simple garment two-piece set and demands a price 10 times than it actually seems worth of, this leads to the buyer refusing it. Then the shopkeeper offers a discount and makes a more reasonable offer which still seems higher, but the second price seems to be fairer than the first and therefore, agrees to buy it.
Foot in the door technique (A guide)

THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND THE TECHNIQUE:

The researches and studies so far have been conducted in order to understand why people use this foot-in-the-door technique and the most well-known theory which explains why is the self-perception theory. The foot-in-the-door technique has been found as successful as a compliance technique. When a person agrees to something, he is likely to answer the question that why and what was the reason behind the acceptance of the request. And when the person answers the question that it is because of his own desire and that he himself wanted to do so, it leads him to stay consistent with his decision and therefore, will likely to agree to a larger request as well.

The Self-Perception Theory has been derived from the school of social psychology and which is the field in which the connection between people is monitored and studied. The foot-in-the-door technique also studies the relationship between the two parties. Daryl Bem, a social psychologist who developed the self-perception theory claims two things and those are-

  • People come to their beliefs and attitudes which are based on their own likings and desires and there is a positive or negative outcome on an experience.
  • When people do not enjoy something, there is no reasonable explanation of why they would want to do it or take an interest in it. This theory is known for explaining self-knowledge.
Foot in the door technique (A guide)

CONCLUSION:

In this blog, we’ve described “Foot In The Door Technique”, self-perception and consistency, foot in the door as a persuasive technique, it’s limitations and the psychology behind the technique. Please feel free to leave a comment or a suggestion, we appreciate your time.

FAQ:

Why does the foot in the door technique work?

The foot in the door technique works because it is a persuasive tactic in which a person offers a smaller request to which if the other person agrees a larger request would be made.

What is the difference between foot in the door and door in the face?

The difference between foot in the door and door in the face technique is that in the foot in the door technique a person offers a smaller request to which if the other person agrees a larger request would be made, whereas door in the face technique involves making a large request from the outset which is sometimes so demanding that the subject end up refusing it then a more realistic request is made to which the person becomes more inclined to agree.

What is an example of a foot in the door phenomenon?

An example of a foot in the door phenomenon would be a salesperson first trying to engage a customer in the ‘small talk’ if he needs something in particular, and if a person is engaged, then it becomes difficult for the person to turn down the request for a larger commitment.

What are the four methods of compliance?

The four methods of compliance are- “door in the face” technique, “foot in the door” technique, “that’s not all” technique and “lowball” technique.

What is the lowball technique?

The lowball technique is also a persuasive technique which is widely used in selling products, in this the salesperson offers an item at a below-market or average market price to the price but will increase the price without warning. 

CITATIONS:

psychologistworld.com

simplypsychology.org

wikipedia.org

Foot in the door technique (A guide)

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.