The Foot-in-the-Door Technique

There are a number of compliance techniques in psychology.   One of these compliance techniques is the foot-in-the-door technique.  What is the foot-in-the-door technique?

The Foot-in-the-Door Technique Definition:

The foot-in-the-door technique involves making an initial smaller request before making a larger request. 

The Foot-in-the-Door Technique Example:

For example, a solicitor could first ask a person to sign a petition.  Then, a few weeks later the solicitor could ask the person to make a donation.   

Research Findings Concerning Charitable Donations:

          There are a number of studies concerning the foot-in-the door technique and charitable donations.   For example, Schwarzwald, Bizman, and Raz (1983) investigated the effectiveness of the foot-in-the-door technique for door-to-door fundraising.  In their study, some of the participants were first asked to sign a petition before being asked to make a donation to the organization (foot-in-the-door condition).  Others were not asked to sign a petition before making a donation (control condition).  The request to sign a petition was made two weeks prior to the request to make a donation.   They found that a greater percentage of people made a donation in the foot-in-the-door condition than in the control condition.  Also, they found that making the small request to sign a petition resulted in more money being donated than not making this request.
The findings from scientific studies on the foot-in-the-door technique have been mixed.   Although some studies have found that the foot-in-the-door technique can increase donations, other studies found no statistically significant effect for the foot-in-the-door technique on donations (see Bell, 2003).
Nonetheless, it may be good to use the foot-in-the-door technique in fundrasing.  It may be a good fundraising method.


Bell, B.  (2003).  The Social Psychology of Fundraising (4th   
Portland, Oregon:  Blue Fox Communications.
Schwarzwald, J., Bizman, A., & Raz, M.  (1983).  The Foot-
     in-the-Door Paradigm:  Effects of a Second Request Size
     on Donation Probability and Donor Generosity. 
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9, 443-450.