Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Sequential Love Priming as a Compliance-Gaining Technique

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Sequential Love Priming as a Compliance-Gaining Technique

Article excerpt

Gaining compliance to a request has long been a topic of interest in social psychology (Girandola & Gueguen, 2014), and many techniques have been found to influence behavior. Among the most influential are sequential techniques such as the foot-in-the-door technique (Freedman & Fraser, 1966), the door-in-the-face technique (Cialdini et al., 1975), the low-ball technique (Cialdini, Cacioppo, Basset, & Miller, 1978) or the lure (Joule, Gouilloux, & Weber, 1989). Compliance behavior can also be obtained with verbal procedures such as the Legitimization Paltry Contribution technique ("even a penny will help"--Cialdini & Schroeder, 1976), the semantic evocation of freedom ("but you are free of ..."--Gueguen & Pascual, 2000), or the Pique technique (e.g., "Can you spare 17 cents?"--Santos, Leve, & Pratkanis, 1994).

Previous research has also found that priming the concept of love can enhance compliance to a request for help. Passersby who had been previously asked to recall the memory of a love episode, as part of a survey for the fictitious journal Love and Feelings, were more helpful than those in a control group (Lamy, Fischer-Lokou, & Gueguen, 2008, 2009; Fischer-Lokou, Lamy, & Gueguen, 2009): (a) they more readily agreed to give money to a confederate who needed to buy a bus ticket, (b) they spontaneously helped a confederate who inadvertently lost a stack of compact discs, (c) they spent more time giving directions to a confederate. In a similar vein, men who had previously participated in a survey on "Men and love" more frequently agreed to make a donation to an association helping female victims of domestic violence (Gueguen, 2014). It has also been found that participants more frequently comply with a health fundraising request (Gueguen, Jacob, & Charles-Sire, 2011), or more frequently agree to give blood (Charles-Sire, Gueguen, & Pascual, 2012) when the requestor is wearing a tee-shirt with "Loving = Helping" written on it, as compared to a non-inscription condition. In addition, behavioral effects have been observed with indirect cues related to love: (a) male passersby, when asked for directions to Valentine Street, proved more daring several minutes later to help a female confederate facing a group of four disreputable-looking male confederates (Lamy, Fischer-Lokou, & Gueguen, 2010), (b) cardioid-shaped dishes displayed in a restaurant influenced customers to leave more tips (Gueguen, 2013). Apart from these studies which have helping or pro-social dependent variables, Gueguen, Jacob, and Lamy (2010) found that females hearing a song with romantic lyrics while in a waiting room, were subsequently more compliant to a courtship request, i.e., they agreed to give their phone number to a male confederate who had told them he found them nice and would like to see them again.

Despite the fact that behavioral compliance has been consistently found when participants are primed with cues related to the concept of love, no research to date has investigated the effectiveness of this technique after an initial refusal has been given to a request, i.e., as a sequential technique. In the present study, we reasoned that participants exposed to a simple, standardized wording related to love, might comply with a request they had initially refused. We designed a procedure in which the idea of love was implicit in the first request and explicit in the second request. To ensure the initial request would meet a high refusal rate, we used a request that opposes a company's rule, and therefore can be accepted only by breaking the rule.



The participants were 216 employees (M = 109, F = 107) of the RATP (Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), which is the company operating the Paris metro. Each participant belonged to a different subway station and was seated alone at the ticket office/information counter during business hours. …

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