Social Reinforcement, Self-Attribution, and the Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon

Social Reinforcement, Self-Attribution, and the Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon Inducing people to comply with a small initial request often increases their susceptibility to a later appeal for more large-scale aid. This phenomenon, the “foot-in-the-door” (FITD) effect, has been explained primarily within the framework of self-perception theory. However, this theory cannot account for all of the findings that have been noted in this area of research. The present study explored the possibility that reinforcement plays a role in determining the success of an FITD attempt. The type of reinforcement associated with the outcome of the initial interaction was hypothesized to mediate subjects' self-perceptions; this reinforcement, in turn, was expected to affect the likelihood of their subsequent altruistic responses. As predicted, subjects whose initial acts were reinforced proved more likely to engage in later altruistic actions (the FITD effect) than did either controls or subjects who were punished in the initial session. These results provide an explanation for previous studies that failed to demonstrate the effect, and, in addition, suggest a factor that might mediate the self-perception process. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Cognition Guilford Press

Social Reinforcement, Self-Attribution, and the Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon

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Publisher
Guilford Press
Copyright
© 1982 Guilford Publications Inc.
ISSN
0278-016X
D.O.I.
10.1521/soco.1982.1.2.110
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Inducing people to comply with a small initial request often increases their susceptibility to a later appeal for more large-scale aid. This phenomenon, the “foot-in-the-door” (FITD) effect, has been explained primarily within the framework of self-perception theory. However, this theory cannot account for all of the findings that have been noted in this area of research. The present study explored the possibility that reinforcement plays a role in determining the success of an FITD attempt. The type of reinforcement associated with the outcome of the initial interaction was hypothesized to mediate subjects' self-perceptions; this reinforcement, in turn, was expected to affect the likelihood of their subsequent altruistic responses. As predicted, subjects whose initial acts were reinforced proved more likely to engage in later altruistic actions (the FITD effect) than did either controls or subjects who were punished in the initial session. These results provide an explanation for previous studies that failed to demonstrate the effect, and, in addition, suggest a factor that might mediate the self-perception process.

Journal

Social CognitionGuilford Press

Published: Jun 1, 1982

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