Door-in-the-Face Technique

The door-in-the-face technique is a persuasion method. Compliance with the request of concern is enhanced by first making an extremely large request that the respondent will obviously turn down, with a metaphorical slamming of a door in the persuader’s face. The respondent is then more likely to accede to a second, more reasonable request than if this second request were made without the first, extreme request.

It is suggested this as a form of reciprocity, for instance; the first request creates a sense of debt or guilt that the second request offers to clear. Alternately, a reference point may explain this phenomenon, as the initial bad offer sets a reference point from which the second offer looks like an improvement.

For example:
“Will you donate thousand pounds to our organization?” [Response is no].
“Oh. Well, could you donate ten pounds?”

“Can you help me do all this work?” [Response is no].
“Well, can you help me with this bit?”

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