The psychological reality of the door-in-the-face it's helping, not bargaining

Kyle James Tusing, James Price Dillard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Door-in-the-face (DITF) is a sequential request technique in which a source first makes a large request. Upon the receiver's refusal, a smaller (target) request is made. DITF has been found to increase compliance with the target request compared to control conditions where only the target request is made. Despite its effectiveness, DITF lacks a consistently supported theoretical explanation. Two studies were conducted to determine whether people see DITF as a bargaining situation, consistent with the reciprocal concessions explanation, or as a helping situation, consistent with a social responsibility explanation. In Study 1, 78 participants judged the relevance of helping and bargaining items to four DITF interactions. In Study 2, 80 participants rated the similarity of a DITF interaction to four interactions that crossed situation (helping versus bargaining) with relationship (friend versus stranger). Results of both studies were consistent with a social responsibility explanation of DITF but inconsistent with reciprocal concessions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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