Foot-in-the-Door Technique: Definition, Effect & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of…
  • 0:43 Freedman and Fraser:…
  • 2:00 Other Examples
  • 2:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Have you ever agreed to a small request, only to later find yourself agreeing to a larger request from the same person? If so, you may have been a victim of the foot-in-the-door technique. Learn more about the foot-in-the-door technique from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of Foot-in-the-Door Technical

The foot-in-the-door technique is a persuasion tactic in which you get a person to comply with a large request by first asking them to comply with a smaller request. Let's look at an example.

Sam is completing a science project, which requires him to design and create a model of the solar system. He asks his mother, Nora, to help him create a design for his project. Nora draws a sketch and gathers the supplies for Sam. Sam then asks his mother to help him glue the pieces together, which she does. In the end, Nora ends up constructing the entire science project with little help from Sam. Nora wonders how this happened. Sam used the foot-in-the-door technique to get his mother to complete his science project.

Freedman and Fraser: Why Foot-in-the-Door Works

The foot-in-the-door technique was first studied by Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser in 1966. The idea is to get the targeted person to say 'yes' to a simple, small request right before asking for a big 'yes.'

Freedman and Fraser found that once a person agrees to a small request, they are more likely to agree to a larger request than they would be if you didn't already have your 'foot in the door' with the small request. In the example of Sam and Nora, Sam was able to get his mother to put together the pieces of his science project (a large request) by first getting her to agree to the smaller request of helping him create a design. Eventually, Sam was able to get his mother to carry out an even larger request, finishing his entire project.

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