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Foot in the Face Technique (FITF)

 

Techniques General persuasion > Using repetition > Foot in the Face Technique (FITF)

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Ask the person to complete a moderately difficult task. Depending on their response, ask them to complete a second moderately difficult task.

  • If they refuse to do the first task, ask them immediately to do the second task.
  • If they comply with the first task request, ask them to do the second task after a delay.

When they have completed this, test their inclination towards obeying you by asking them to complete yet another moderate task at some time in the not-too-distant future, for example after a few days.

Example

A teacher gives their new class a challenging, but not too hard, task to complete. When the class does this, the teacher congratulates them, then gives them another such task. The tasks are designed to fit into the whole of the first lesson. In the second lesson, the class is now ready to do as they are asked.

A car sales person asks a customer to complete a questionnaire about their preferences. She then asks them for an appointment in which she will demonstrate a car. She finds that asking the first question increases the chance of a 'yes' for the second one.

Discussion

The 'Foot In The Face' method is an extension of two common sequential persuasion techniques. The Foot In The Door method starts with an easy request then uses the consistency principle to get compliance to a more demanding request. In contrast, the Door In The Face method starts with a demanding request and then uses the exchange principle to get compliance with an easier request as the subject 'pays back' their debt of having declined the first request by complying with the easier second one.

In three field studies, Dolinski (2011) found that compliance could be gained on a second request which is about the same 'difficulty' for the subject as the first request. He asked 200 people to do one of a daily temperature or air pressure reading, then asked them to do the other task (even if they had refused the first one). About half complied with the first request and even more with the second one. Follow-up studies achieved compliance of between 63% and 68%.

This may be explained as an example of the Ben Franklin effect, whereby a person rationalizes that they have done something for you because they like you or some other acceptable reason, and that this reasoning hence extends to being valid for justifying to themselves any further help for you. Then, having completed the second task, they are even more obliged to persuade themselves that they want to help you on an ongoing basis, as they cannot just dismiss the single assistance as a 'one off'. When the person refuses the first request and then complies with the second request, there may be a 'Door in the Face' effect, even though the second task is also moderately difficult.

Depending on the situation, the FITF method may also help confirm your position as having authority over the subject. In this way, it can be a good idea for managers to ask new subordinates to complete a task that it not too hard for them and not too easy, and then to complete another such moderate task. This helps to establish the manager-subordinate relationship and will

This is not a continuously repeatable process as if you keep asking for compliance you will eventually get refusal as the social capital between you and them becomes too far out of balance (in other words, they feel they have done enough for you and now it is your turn to do something for them).

See also

Foot In The Door (FITD), Door In The Face (DITF), Ben Franklin Effect, Exchange Principle

 

Dolinski, D. (2011). A rock or a hard place: The foot-in-the-face technique for inducing compliance without pressure. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41, 6, 1514–1537

 

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