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- Psychologists have identified various persuasive techniques, including what they call the "foot-in-the-door" technique. Using this technique, one is more likely to respond positively to a larger request if you begin with a smaller request.
- In a study, researchers went door-to-door pretending to be members of a non-profit service organization. Participants in the study were separated into two groups and asked to post an unattractive sign labeled "Drive Carefully" in front of their homes. One of the groups, however, had been previously asked to to perform one of several smaller requests, including signing a petition urging politicians to enact safe driving legislation.
- As expected, members of the group who had been previously approached responded more favorably to the second request than those who had not. Over 55% of the people who agreed to the initial small request agreed to post the unattractive sign, while less than 17% of those who were being approached for the first time agreed to post the sign.
- Since this study, researchers have been examining the sorts of initial requests that are more likely to lead people to comply with the bigger request. Some suggest that an initial request will only succeed if it causes one to change their self-perception. For example, those who complied with the initial request in the study might be likely to perceive themselves as "doers" seeking to improve driving conditions in their communities. As a result, when asked to post the sign, those "doers" were complying in order to act out their new self-perception.
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