Door-in-the-face technique: Replication of Cialdini et al. (1975)

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Description: Many failed replications in social psychology have cast doubt on the validity of the field. Most of these replication attempts have focused on findings published from the 1990s on, ignoring a large body of older literature. As some scholars suggest that social psychological findings and theories are limited to a particular time, place, and population, we sought to test whether a classical social psychological finding that was published nearly half a century ago can be successfully replicated in another country on another continent. To this end, we directly replicated Cialdini et al.’s (1975) door-in-the-face (DITF) technique according to which people’s likelihood to comply with a target request increases after having turned down a larger request. Thereby, we put the reciprocal concessions theory – the original process explanation of the DITF technique – to a critical test. Overall, compliance rates in our replication were similarly high as those Cialdini et al. (1975) found 45 years ago. That is, participants were more likely to comply with a target request after turning down an extreme request than participants who were exposed to the target request only or to a similarly small request before being exposed to the target request. These findings support the idea that reciprocity norms play a crucial role in DITF strategies. Moreover, the results suggest that at least some social psychological findings can transcend a particular time, place, and population. Further theoretical implications are discussed.

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