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Compliance techniques


  • Acting accordingly to someone's request whether made explicit or implicit.
  • Compliance is yielding to social pressure in one's public behaviour, even though one's private beliefs may have not changed.
  • Used both professionally: In sales and fundraising as well as in everyday life. 
  • Compliance techniques is socially evolved; the evolution of social influences ties social psychology to the biological level of analysis.

Compliance Techniques

  • Reciprocity
    • People are more likely to comply with requests from someone who has already done them a favour. 
    • Reciprocity served an evolutionary purpose as people could give things away without actually giving them away, as the favor would most likely be returned. 
    • The-door-in-the-face concession is one variation where an extreme request is made, refused, and then the person makes a less demanding request, actually the real request.
      • Studies: Cialdini et al (1975)
  • Social Validation

    • People are more likely to comply with persons who think and do things in a similar way.

    • Looking for social validation frequently works, as we are correct much of the time when we look to others for guidance.

    • In addition, it may be easier to get someone from a collectivist culture to comply. 

  • Commitment/consistency
    • Humans want consistency and are more likely to comply with a request if they have already committed to a similar request. 
    • Professionals use a variety of techniques that capitalize on getting a person to comply to a request that is consistent what a previous commitment. 
    • Foot in the Door involves a person making a small request that will surely be granted. The initial request is followed by a greater request. To remain consistent the second request will likely be granted.
    • Bait-and-switch is a sale strategy where an item is advertised, but when the person arrives in the store it is no longer on sale. However other items are available, often at a greater price. 
    • Low-balling is a part of a sales pitch where an item is offered at a low price. When the customer agrees to purchase the item, suddenly there is some reason, perhaps a calculation error, that causes the price to rise, the customer will usually buy the item because of the original commitment.
  • Friendship/liking
    • People are more likely to comply with requests from those they like, the point of this strategy is to get others to like you first.
    • Similarity, such as wearing the same types of clothes, giving compliments, having a previous relationship with a person and using a similar type of communication are all factors that increase the intensity of the friendship strategy.
    • Females are more likely to comply to a face-to-face request then an email request where males are as likely to comply to either.
  • Scarcity
    • If an item is perceived as scarce, people are more likely to try it and get it.
    • The psychological reactance theory explains that, when people perceive a freedom as limited, such as the ability to acquire a good, it becomes desirable.
    • The limited number and deadline technique both make use of this principle.
  • Authority
    • Requests from legitimate authority figures are more likely to be followed.
    • Sales professionals benefit from describing themselves as experts in a field. Stanley Milgram was successful in getting people to comply to obedience demands because he appeared an authority.
    • Studies: Milgram's Obedience Experiment (1963)
Possible Paper 1 Questions
ERQ: see example under command term - Discuss
SRQ: Describe the use of one compliance technique
SRQ: see example under command term - Explain