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Door In The Face (DITF)


Techniques General Persuasion > Sequential Requests > Door In The Face (DITF)

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



First make a request of the other person that is excessive and to which they will most naturally refuse.

Look disappointed but then make a request that is more reasonable. The other person will then be more likely to accept.


Will you donate $100 to our cause? [response is no].
Oh. Well could you donate $10?

Can you help me do all this work?
Well can you help me with this bit?

Can I stay out until 4am?
OK. How about midnight?


DITF works by first getting a no and then getting a yes.

When the other person refuses the first request, they may feel guilty about having refused another person and fear rejection as a result. The second request gives them the opportunity to assuage that guilt and mitigate any threat of social rejection. In effect, the person making the request is making an exchange of concession for belonging.

The lower request uses the contrast principle, making it seem very small in comparison with the larger initial request and hence relatively trivial and easy to agree with.

This method works best when the requests being made have a socially valid element, for example where you are seeking to learn something, teach people or help others. This is so that the other person does not reject the whole request out of hand (it is just that the initial request is 'too much').

The second request should be made soon after the first request, before the effects of guilt and other motivators wears off.


Cialdini, Cacioppo, Bassett, and Miller asked students to to volunteer to council juvenile delinquents for two hours a week for two years. After their refusal, they were asked to chaperone juvenile delinquents on a one-day trip to the zoo. 50% agreed to chaperone the trip to the zoo as compared to 17% of participants who only received the zoo request.

The Door-in-the-face technique is a 'sequential request' and is also known as 'rejection-then-retreat'.

See also

Foot In The Door (FITD), Bait-and-switch, Pregiving

Exchange principle, Contrast principle, Highball

Guilt, Social Judgment Theory


Cialdini, R., Vincent, J., Lewis, S., Catalan, J., Wheeler, D., & Darby, B. (1975). Reciprocal concessions procedure for inducing compliance: The door-in-the-face technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 206-215.

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