Compliance Gaining & Resistance Strategies

Compliance Gaining & Resistance Strategies
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  • 0:01 Compliance
  • 0:46 Compliance Gaining
  • 4:04 Resistance
  • 5:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Sometimes you just really need people to work with you. Sometimes, you need their compliance. In this lesson, explore compliance gaining and resisting, and test your understanding with a brief quiz.


Comply. If ever there was a word that immediately summons images of government conspiracies and brainwashing, it would be that one. Comply. It just sounds creepy. Compliance is the act of behaving according to another's wish or command, and it's not just brainwashing. Doctors expect their patients to comply with medical advice; cops expect people to comply with the law. So, it's not evil. And to prove that, we've brought in the most compliant person ever. This is John Study, and he's happy to comply…with pretty much anything.

Compliance Gaining

Now, sometimes, people like doctors or cops really need others to comply, and there are various strategies to help them achieve this goal. In the social sciences, we call the intentional alteration of another's behavior compliance gaining. Compliance gaining is not brainwashing, assimilation or even persuasion; those ideas are focused on getting a person to change their fundamental beliefs or attitudes. Compliance gaining is just about creating a change in behavior. You can think, feel, or believe whatever you want; the goal is just to get you to act a certain way, like obeying the speed limit.

Compliance gaining has several strategies, and we're going to test them all out on John Study. Now, let me preface this by saying that not all of these are positive, healthy, or even acceptable. Especially in terms of professions like medicine or law enforcement, there are some you want to ethically avoid. Let's start with those.

The most basic is aversive stimulation, doing something negative until a person complies. Basically, if you don't do what I ask, I'll make your life miserable. Criticism is another generally negative strategy in which you encourage compliance by emphasizing a person's negative traits. You're so lazy, why won't you do this for me? Those are negative strategies of compliance gaining, and again, you want to avoid these, especially if you're working with people in a professional field.

So, how about some more positive strategies? Altercasting is the focus on the positive or negative traits in a third person to encourage compliance. Here's what that looks like: 'Man, Greg is so great because he buys ice cream for his friends.' By saying that to a friend, you are encouraging them to comply with your request that they buy you ice cream.

Another strategy is complimenting, encouraging compliance by emphasizing someone's positive traits. You're so good at this, please do that for me. We've also got altruism, influencing behavior by appealing to the goodness of someone's heart; bartering, encouraging compliance by promising a return of favors; and benefit for others, influencing behavior for presumed benefit to someone else. Those are pretty common compliance gaining strategies.

However, in law enforcement especially, there are also two others: assertion, demanding compliance, and authority appeal, encouraging compliance based on your authority. These are all generally positive, but it really depends on how they are used. If it is for another's benefit, then yeah, that's great, but even these can be used for personal gain and manipulation. So, watch out for that.

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