[ExI] Fwd: story

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 24 14:47:08 UTC 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: spike <spike66 at att.net>
Date: Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 6:50 PM
Subject: RE: story
To: William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com>

Post this story BillW!  This is cool!  I learned something and had fun
doing it.


*From:* William Flynn Wallace [mailto:foozler83 at gmail.com]
*Sent:* Wednesday, September 23, 2015 3:43 PM
*To:* spike jones
*Subject:* story

(you didn't say it had to be fiction, but still, it might not be the sort
of thing you want - read it before I post it, OK?)

Prof: Let's talk about your master's thesis.  Have you any ideas at this
point about what you want to do?

Student:  I think so.  I want to find out about favors.  What happens when
one person does a favor for another?  Does this little interaction produce
any long lasting effects, like going beyond the actual completion of the

Prof:  I don't know if there is any research on that.  Have you found any?

S:  not really, which is why I think it's a good topic and we can wow the
committee with my creativity.

P:  So far so good.

 S:  I am going to call people and ask them favors about a Red Cross blood
drive.  With their permission of course.

I am going to create two groups:  one, the control group, is composed of
those who get a call asking them to volunteer four hours at the blood
drive.  This is considered a big favor.

The experimental group gets a call asking them if we can put up a sign in
their yard advertising a Red Cross blood drive.  This is the small favor
group.  For those who agree, we call a week later after putting up the
sign, and ask them if they would volunteer for four hours at the blood
drive.  The big favor.


P:  Have you done the study and have the results?

S;  Yes sir.  It's very clear that if you ask a small favor, like the
sign,  you are far more likely to get a positive response to the big favor
if they have agreed to the earlier, smaller favor.  The control group
showed far less positive responses to the volunteer favor.


S; I am going to call this effect Foot in the Door.  You get a small favor
and then later ask a bigger one.

P:  Do you think that you can take this and expand it for your doctoral

S:  Already I have laid out a plan:  We are going to ask such a big favor
that everyone is going to turn us down.  Then we call back and ask a much
smaller favor.  I think we'll use the same blood drive sign and
volunteering setup, except we are going to ask for two full days of help.

P:  All right.  Got your data all analyzed?

S:  Yes sir.  You might think that this would be the reverse of the foot in
the door and not work, but in fact it worked beautifully.

P:  I'll bet you have a new name for this, eh?

S:  I am going to call it Door in the Face.  I think of it like a teen
asking Dad for $100 when he really wants just $20.  Asking for $20 cold
might be turned down, but if he starts at $100 it might work the same way
it worked in the experiment.

P: Wonderful.  We are going to get this published, no doubt.  But you know
that you are going to be grilled about why the effect occurs.

S;  Ready for them, I think.  Using Leon Festinger's Cognitive Dissonance
Theory, here is what I will say:

To do a favor for a stranger entails a few things; a positive view of
yourself as a person who helps others, and a positive view of the other as
a person who deserves help.  So after doing the small favor, as in the Foot
in the Door, the person pats himself on the back and raises his estimation
of himself as a helper.  And of course he has raised his view of Red Cross
as an organization that deserves his help.  To reject the next favor would
be dissonant with his new estimations.  In other words, something has to
change in the helper's view that did not change in the view of the subjects
who rejected the big favor.  The helpers when asked the big favor had to
avoid a situation in which you would feel dissonance, and so to avoid that
they OKed the big favor.

As for Door in the Face, first let me tell you that a surprising number of
people accepted the volunteering even without the sign being put up first.
But we only called the deniers and found that it worked abou as well as
Foot in the Door.  As to why, we think the denier might feel a bit guilty
about turning down such a credible organization,and so he more disposed to
help them when we call later.  Same sort of dissonance interpretation.


Of course this is a true story.  These terms and results have been in
social psych texts for several decades.  If this does not meet the sort of
thing you want, I'll give it another go.  Time to burn.

bill w
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