How to Manipulate Others to do Your Bidding

In my PSYCH100 class, I learned about the foot-in-the-door technique. The FITD technique is when you ask someone to do a small favor and when they agree, you then ask for a large favor. They will more likely agree than compared to only asking for the large favor. There is another technique called the door-in-the-face technique where you ask someone to do a huge unreasonable favor first, in which they will say no, then ask for a smaller more reasonable favor. The person will also be more likely to agree with this technique as well. But the question is, do these techniques work and if they do, which is more effective?

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In a 1966 experiment conducted by Freedman, J.L. and Fraser, S.C. regarding the FITD technique, the subjects were tested on 4 scenarios. The small favor was to answer some questions about soap use and the large favor was for 5-6 men to come and inventory all the products in their home. In the first scenario, they were asked to do a small favor, and later a large favor. In the second scenario, they were asked a small favor, but didn’t have them do it, and later a large favor. In the third scenario, they received an explanation of the subject and then asked the large favor. In the fourth scenario, they were only asked the large favor. The results showed that 52.8% agreed to the large favor in the first scenario, 33.33% in the second, 27.8% in the third, and 22.2% in the fourth. This experiment proves that the foot-in-the-door technique does work and 30.6% more effectively in this experiment.

On the other hand, in an experiment regarding the effectiveness of the DITF technique, the subjects were tested on 3 scenarios. The small favor was to chaperone juvenile delinquents on a one-day trip to the zoo. The large favor was to volunteer to counsel juvenile delinquents for two hours a week for two years. In the first scenario, the subjects were asked the large favor, then followed by the small favor. In the second scenario, they were asked only the small favor. In the third scenario, they received a description of the large favor, but was only asked to do the small favor. The results showed that 50% agreed to the large favor in scenario one, 17% for scenario two, and 25% for scenario three. This experiment proves that the door-in-the-face technique also works and by 25% more too.

There are many hypotheses as to why these techniques work. Some researchers say that the DITF technique works because of reciprocal concessions or social responsibilities. Reciprocal concessions makes us think that we should at least agree to the smaller request since the persuader is conceding with the larger request. As humans we feel like we have the social responsibility to help others therefore we should at least agree to the smaller request. However, both explanations do not fully explain why these techniques work. Other researchers think that the techniques work due to people wanting to maintain a good image or reducing guilt.

The real question is, which method is better? In a study conducted in an after school center in Hong Kong, sixty 2nd-grade students were asked to fill out an arithmetic worksheet. 12 out of 20 students agreed using the FITD technique and 18 out of 20 students agreed using the DITF technique. The results show that the DITF technique is better. However that may be only due to chance. It is hard to say because the study size is very small and maybe the DITF technique was only better when used towards children, or only that particular scenario.

In a meta-analysis conducted by Alexandre Pascual with 22 studies and over 3,000 subjects, it showed that there was no significant differences in the effectiveness in either of the two techniques. One technique may be better than the other in one type of scenario and vice versa.  The average percentage of compliance using the FITD technique is 45.2%. The average percentage of compliance using the DITF technique is 41.1%. The 4.1% difference is not much considering the range of compliance goes from 2.7% to 100%.

http://prx.sagepub.com/content/96/1/122.full.pdf+html

In conclusion, it is surprisingly easy to manipulate people. Whether it is FITD or DITF, chances are you’ll get the person to do your bidding. The next time you want your sister to do your chores, try asking her to do it for one day, and then later asking her to do it for a week. Or you can ask her to do your chores for a week, and then ask for just three days, or just one day.

1 thought on “How to Manipulate Others to do Your Bidding

  1. Brian Cunningham

    I think manipulation of the mind is a very interesting topic, especially because most of the time, it works simply because of lack of attention to details in a situation. Like with this technique, if somebody knew the technique and how it would work before responding to the requests, it would be very obvious what the person was trying to do. But it’s the fact that we don’t have these fairly easily understandable facts laid out in front of us that makes it so easy to miss and fall into the trap.

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