Chapter 1
 Chapter 2
 Chapter 3
 Chapter 4
 Chapter 5
 Chapter 6
 Chapter 7
 Chapter 8
 Chapter 9
 Chapter 10
 Chapter 11
 Chapter 12




This chapter takes an interpersonal thrust, focusing on concepts and research in interpersonal persuasion. A broad area that encompasses social psychology and interpersonal communication scholarship, interpersonal persuasion focuses on the psychology and dynamics of compliance. The classic influence techniques are reviewed, including foot-in-the-door, door-in-the-face, and low-balling. These techniques, with their many applications to interpersonal selling, work under particular conditions, and for precise psychological reasons. The "when" and "why" of interpersonal persuasion are discussed; this is intended to provide students with an introduction to the intricacies of sequential influence techniques. The second section of the chapter explores compliance-gaining, a distinctly interpersonal domain. The chapter introduces the major compliance-gaining strategies, as well as contextual influences on people's choice of compliance-gaining techniques. Compliance-gaining is a complex arena, and the final sections of the chapter discuss the complicated cognitive dynamics of gaining compliance, as well as ethical issues that surround compliance-gaining and interpersonal persuasion more generally.


Sequential influence techniques
Foot-in-the-door technique
Door-in-the-face technique
Low balling
"That's-not-all" technique
Pique technique
Disrupt-then-reframe technique
Closed-ended and open-ended research methods
Compliance-gaining strategies
Contextual influences on compliance-gaining
Individual differences in compliance-gaining
Ethical issues in interpersonal persuasion
Resistance and compliance
Applications of compliance-gaining
Social exchange


Sequential influence techniques: interpersonal influence strategies in which influence proceeds in stages, each of which provides the foundation for subsequent changes in behavior.
Foot-in-the-door technique: the classic persuasion strategy in which persuaders begin with a small request and then follow it up with a second, larger -- and target -- request.
Door-in-the-face technique: a persuader makes a large request that is almost certain to be denied, and, following rejection, returns with a smaller request, the target request the persuader had in mind at the outset.
Low balling: the persuader induces an individual to comply with a request and then "ups the ante" by increasing the cost of compliance.
"That's-not-all" technique: a communicator presents a request, and then tells the receiver "that's not all": an additional small product accompanies the larger item, supposedly in this situation only. The approach is theoretically more effective than one in which both products are presented at the same time.
Fear-then-relief: the persuader deliberately places the recipient in a state of fear, only to quickly eliminate the threat, and replace it with a mild request for compliance.
Pique technique: a communicator makes a request in an unusual manner, thereby piquing the target's interest.
Disrupt-then-reframe technique: persuader disrupts the script of a communicative request and then reframes the request, encouraging the receiver to process the issue in a new way.
Compliance-gaining: communicative behavior in which an agent engages in an effort to elicit from a target an agent-selected behavior; one-on-one interpersonal communication encounter in which a communicator requests compliance from another individual.
Closed-ended compliance-gaining survey method: questionnaire that provides respondents with hypothetical situations, and asks them to choose from among various strategies for compliance on a quantitative scale.
Open-ended compliance-gaining survey method: respondents describe in their own words how they would gain compliance from others. Responses are subsequently categorized by trained researchers.
Social exchange: an interpersonal persuasion strategy in which Person A provides Person B with a tangible or psychological reward; in exchange, when Person A approaches B with a request for compliance, B feels pressure to comply.


  1. Summarize the main aspects of compliance techniques discussed in the first part of the chapter (foot-in-the-door, door-in-the-face, low balling, that's not all, fear-then-relief, pique, and disrupt-then-reframe). Why are techniques like this called "compliance without pressure"? Compare and contrast the techniques in terms of strategy and psychological dynamics (reasons why they work).
  2. Compliance-gaining is a rich, complex area. Why is it viewed as an interpersonal persuasion arena? With particular situations in mind, discuss how cognitions, self-presentational concerns, and conflicting interpersonal and intrapersonal goals can operate to make compliance-gaining something of a dynamic dance of communication.
  3. Select one social or health-related problem. Focusing on one or more of the concepts discussed in the chapter, systematically discuss ways to harness interpersonal persuasion ideas to help people cope with this problem.
  4. Review the discussion of ethics in this chapter and chapter 1. With these and your own ethical intuitions in mind, present a forceful argument that: (a) interpersonal persuasive communications, including manipulative influence attempts, are ethical; or (b) such communications are unethical, on balance. Try your hand at defining "ethical" and what constitutes an ethical influence attempt.
  5. Is social exchange ethical? Or is it morally blameworthy? If you think it depends on the situation, explain how situational principles could help us sort out when exchange is morally acceptable and when it is not.


  1. Let's say that you agree to help your roommate proofread a short assignment for her communication class. A few days later she returns asking if you would mind helping her edit a longer paper for a social psychology course. She has employed which compliance technique:
    a. foot-in-the-door
    b. door-in-the-face
    c. low balling
    d. that's not all
  2. Door-in-the-face works for all these reasons but one:
    a. contrast effect (the second request seems less costly in comparison to the first)
    b. reciprocal concessions (individuals go along with the norm that "you should make concessions to those who make concessions to you")
    c. self-perception (people infer they are helpful people after complying with the initial
    d. guilt (people feel guilty about turning down the first request)
  3. The pique and disrupt-then-reframe techniques work by:
    a. arousing cognitive dissonance
    b. evoking central processing
    c. rewarding the individual for her kindness
    d. interfering with people's standard refusal script
  4. To measure compliance-gaining, a researcher asks you to write down how you get your way when making requests of your parents. The researcher has employed which of these questionnaire techniques:
    a. closed-ended
    b. open-ended
    c. observational
    d. statistical
  5. Intimacy, dependency, and rights illustrate which of the following:
    a. contextual influences on compliance-gaining
    b. individual differences in compliance-gaining
    c. unethical aspects of compliance
    d. coercive, unsavory forces
  6. These types of ethicists disapprove of lies because they distort truth or are intrinsically wrong. They are ___________ philosophers:
    a. utilitarian
    b. deontological
    c. behavioral
    d. goony
  7. What is unique about the resistance approach to compliance?
    a.) it argues that people frequently resist persuasive messages
    b.) it says that when attitudes are strong, people resist persuasion
    c.) the approach notes that certain people are gullible and cannot easily resist persuasion, and it is useful to identify these individuals.
    d.) the approach says that rather than making messages more appealing, persuaders should figure out to overcome people’s resistance to persuasion

Answers: 1: a, 2: c, 3: d, 4: b, 5: a, 6: b, 7: d


  1. Interpersonal persuasion is a rich, multifaceted arena. Explore such persuasion in action by arranging with real-life persuaders to observe them plying their trades. You might watch car salespeople, clothing store salesmen or women, telemarketers, or other professional persuaders. Develop a code sheet, using the psychological models of compliance and compliance-gaining strategies as guides for organizing your observations. For example, you might look to see if salespeople use the door-in-the-face technique, whether and when it works, or if they use direct or indirect, or hard or soft, techniques. Keep a careful record of what you observe, even comparing one or two different salespeople (comparing a male and female sales agent might be interesting).
  2. Interpersonal persuasion can be viewed as an attempt to overcome people's resistance step by step, little by little. This is particularly important in the health arena. Interview persuaders trying to change health behaviors (physicians, clinical psychologists, nutritional counselors, AIDS prevention volunteers). Ask them how they try to influence patients by neutralizing or overcoming their resistance to a behavioral change (see Box 11-1).


This article offers a glimpse into the ways that interpersonal persuasion occurs in real life. It focuses on the negative, shady sides of interpersonal influence, telling the story of a mortgage company that develops a battery of strategic persuasive techniques -- a veritable con game with elaborate, deceptive sales procedures -- to induce people to borrow money from the company. You should find the descriptions in the following investigative story of interest:

"Profiting from fine print with Wall Street's help," by Diana B. Henriques and Lowell Bergman, The New York Times, March 15, 2000, pp. A1, C12-C13.

Much of the story is technical; however the inside pages (or later sections) catalogue the specific techniques the company employed. The story, which was discussed briefly in the chapter, raises a variety of questions. After reading it, make a list of the interpersonal persuasion techniques the company used, trying to categorize them in clear, cogent ways. Draw on theories discussed in the chapter. What was unethical about the company's tactics? Draw on your own intuitions and the book's discussions of ethics to make statements about the ethics of using such sales procedures to hook customers

“Radio payoffs are described as Sony settles,” by J. Leeds and L. Story, The New York Times, July 26, 2005, pp. A1, C4.

The article describes how Sony BMG Music Entertainment arranged a series of payoffs to radio stations, giving a program director PlayStation 2 games or sending a DJ one Adidas sneaker for playing a song called “A.D.I.D.A.S.” The gambit attracted the attention of New York’s attorney general, who took legal action. Describe examples of social exchange chronicled in the article. What makes this problematic, indeed unethical? What can we do to help people resist falling prey to the allure of exchange?

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