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Foot In The Door (FITD)


Techniques General Persuasion > Sequential Requests > Foot In The Door (FITD)

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Ask for something small.

When they give it to you, then ask for something bigger.

And maybe then something bigger again.


A person in the street asks me directions, which I give. They then ask me to walk a little way with them to make sure they don't get lost. In the end, I take them all the way to their destination.

Dad, can I go out for an hour to see Sam? [answer yes]
...I just called Sam and he's going to the cinema - can I go with him?
...I haven't got money -- could you lend me enough to get in?
...Could you give us a lift there?
...Could you pick us up after?


FITD works by first getting a small yes and then getting an even better yes.

The principle involved is that a small agreement creates a bond between the requester and the requestee. The other person has to justify their agreement to themself. They cannot use the first request as something significant, so they have to convince themself that it is because they are nice and like the requester or that they actually are interested in the item being requested. In a future request, they then feel obliged to act consistently with their internal explanation they have built.

The initial request should be:

  • ..small enough so that they are less likely to refuse the request.
  • ..big enough so the target person feels they are being kind when they respond.
  • ..for a good reason that the giver agrees is worthwhile.
  • ..something that the person will do voluntary (not requiring external incentives such as pressure or money).

It can help if there is some label given, such as the sticky badges that charities often give out after a donation.

It does not matter when there is

Freedman and Fraser (1966) asked people to either sign a petition or place a small card in a window in their home or car about keeping California beautiful or supporting safe driving. About two weeks later, the same people were asked by a second person to put a large sign advocating safe driving in their front yard. Many people who agreed to the first request now complied with the second, far more intrusive request.

The Freedman and Fraser study showed significant effect. later studies showed that the actual effect was more often far less.

The most powerful effect occurs when the person's self-image is aligned with the request. Requests thus need to be kept close to issues that the person is likely to support, such as helping other people. It is also affected by individual need for consistency.

Pro-social requests also increase likelihood of success with this method. It is also more likely to succeed when the second request is an extension of the first request (as opposed to being something completely different).

Note also that 'foot in the door' is also used as a generic term to describe where early sales are relatively unprofitable (maybe a 'loss leader'), as the key purpose is to enable a relationship to be developed whereby further and more profitable sales may be completed.

The Foot-in-the-door technique is a 'sequential request'.

See also

But You Are Free

Bonding principle, Consistency principle

Nibbling, Ben Franklin Effect

Self-Perception Theory, Social Norms


Beaman, A. L., Cole, C. M., Klentz, B., & Steblay, N. M. (1983). Fifteen years of the foot-in-the-door Research: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9,181-196

Burger, J. M. (1999). The foot-in-the-door compliance procedure: A multiple-process analysis and review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 303-325

Dillard, J. (1990). Self-inference and the foot-in-the-door technique: Quantity of behavior and attitudinal mediation. Human Communication Research, 16, 422-447

Freedman, J., & Fraser, S. (1966). Compliance without pressure: The foot-in-the-door technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 195-202

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