Imagine you are in this situation: they knock on your door to ask for a donation to a charity that fights against poverty. Maybe at that point you say no, you have no money and you close the door.
Now imagine the same situation happening, with one little difference: this time when you open the door, instead of asking for money, they give you a pin with a message of solidarity. They ask you to take it a week to educate society on the importance of tackling urban poverty.
Two weeks have passed and the same members of the association are coming back to you, this time to ask for a donation. Chances are, in this scenario you will give it to him. They applied with you the pied-à-porte technique. Let’s see what it is.
What is the door-to-door technique?
Door to door is a persuasive strategy that is widely used in all kinds of contexts where you want to sell or ask for something. Given its psychosocial implication, this technique has been studied in social psychology, a discipline in which it has aroused great interest, judging by the numerous studies that have addressed it.
The name of this technique refers to the classic situation where a salesperson steps on the door, preventing it from closing., as the first step in selling your product or service.
According to the definition given by the team of Beaman (1983), the foot in the door is a technique which consists in ask a little favor from someone who you mean to get a little more. The situation begins with inexpensive behavior in a context of free choice, thus assuring us of its affirmative answer. Then we ask that person for a related favor, on a larger scale, which is actually what interests us.
This technique implies that if a person agrees to take a small action, they will later be more likely to take a related action of a larger nature, an action that they would not have done before. That is, they are a person who accepts a small, inexpensive request, which will make them more likely to accept a larger request.
The main factors that cause subsequent behavior on a larger scale to be executed are commitment and consistency. The individuals agreed to perform the initial driving, on a voluntary basis, and this motivates them to more easily accept a subsequent request it goes in the same direction although a little more expensive.
For example, if we are in favor of an idea, it will be easier for us to engage in similar actions. We thus maintain internal coherence, with ourselves and externally, vis-à-vis others. Add to that, the effectiveness of this technique is greatest when the following conditions are met:
- The commitment is public
- The person publicly chose it
- The first commitment was costly
The Freedman and Fraser Experiment (1966)
The door-to-door technique is so classic that it is difficult to know exactly who invented and used it for the first time. What we do know is that they were the first to study it from social psychology. The first study of this strategy was conducted at Stanford University in 1966 by Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser. His research raised the following question: How do you get someone to do something they’d rather not do?
The first task of his experiment was to check whether unknown people, who would serve as experimental subjects, agreed to receive at home individuals who were doing a study on cleaning products. These people would be responsible for inspecting the brands and use of the products in each household that allows them to enter. Some of these experimental subjects have already been subjected to a small telephone survey to find out what kind of cleaning products they were using.
Freedman and Fraser found that those who passed the previous telephone survey were 135% likely to accept the request to receive professionals at home compared to those who did not.
In the second part of the experiment these researchers went a step further, by checking whether people would agree to place a very large and ugly road safety sign in the garden of their house. Some had already been asked to put a small sticker on windows or doors that promoted environmental protection or safe driving.
Freedman and Fraser reexamined how those who had previously placed these stickers were more likely to agree to put the sign in their backyards. Those in the group that had not been asked to wear stickers only agreed to put the sign on for 17%, while in the group that had the stickers, 55% agreed.
Why do you manage to convince this technique?
One of the most common explanations for the effect of this technique relates to ideas of self-perception and consistency.. Daryl Bem’s Theory of Self-Perception states that when people feel insecure about their attitude about a fact or situation that they have had no previous experience with, they tend to draw conclusions about their attitude by observing the actions they have taken. . That is, he maintains that people infer their personality from their own conduct.
Based on this theory, the Billboard Experiment case, which had previously agreed to use stickers with vindictive messages, saw itself as more committed to this cause. This had motivated them to agree to put up a road safety sign in the garden so that they would agree with their actions. That is, participants were more likely to perform this action while being consistent with their perception of themselves at the time.
In addition, it is the relationship that is created between the person who persuades and the person persuaded. Those who have been persuaded feel obligated not to miss a future commitment that has been formed by accepting the first demands. The persuaded person feels involved in the cause and has a harder time rejecting subsequent requests.
His relations with sects
As a persuasion strategy, the door-to-door technique has a strong relationship with cults. The first contact of enforcement organizations is usually to attend small meetings. Subsequently, a donation or a small gesture is requested. Having already taken the first steps, no matter how small, we are more likely to engage in larger actions later..
Among these actions, we can find behaviors such as devoting weekly hours to the organization, giving more and more money, giving valuable goods … In the most extreme cases, the followers are obliged to render services sexual or even participating in col suicides Believing that they are doing it on a voluntary basis despite being manipulated like puppets.
The door-to-door technique is a persuasive strategy which, although seemingly intrusive, It is very effective for its subtlety, which is why it is widely used in marketing, sales and advertising.. It is a way of persuading without pressure, achieving very beneficial results for those who use it.
It is very popular everyday. For example, when they call us on the phone and ask, “Do you have internet? And we answer that yes, we are predisposed to continue listening. The next question is usually “Do you want to pay less?” And, if we answer in the affirmative, we fall into its trap. They just kicked us in the door and will keep trying to see if we can say yes to their offers or services.
Now that we know this technique, it can help us avoid falling into both corporate marketing strategies and cult methods. Learn to saying no and detecting the manipulative techniques used by these organizations is essential to prevent them from getting anything from us that they want, and in addition to making us believe that we have been free to choose.
A short, short ‘yes’ to an initial question can lead to a whole bombardment of questions and demands in which it will cost us more and more to reject what they want from us. So the next time we are offered something, we should think about it better.
- Bem, DJ (1967). Self-perception: an alternative interpretation of the phenomena of cognitive dissonance. Psychological review, 74 (3), 183.
- Burger, JM (1999). The door-to-door compliance procedure: an analysis and review of several processes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3 (4), 303-325.
- Fazio, RH, Zanna, MP and Cooper, J. (1977). Dissonance and self-perception: an integrative vision of the own field of application of each theory. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13 (5), 464-479.
- Freedman, JL and Fraser, SC (1966). Conformity without pressure: the pied-à-porte technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 (2), 195-202.