The Perceptual Contrast Explanation of Sequential Request Strategy Effectiveness



    1. James G. Cantrill is assistant professor of communication arts at Carroll College, Helena, Montana.
    Search for more papers by this author

    1. David R. Seibold is associate professor of speech communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The authors wish to thank Jesse Delia and Dean Hewes for their comments on an earlier version of this article. Portions of this article were presented at the Speech Communication Association convention, Denver, 1985.
    Search for more papers by this author


Although previous studies of the foot-in-the-door and the door-in-the-face techniques of interpersonal influence have established the effectiveness of these sequential request strategies, communication researchers have not discovered an adequate conceptual framework for explaining their compliance-enhancing properties. The present study tests the perceptual contrast explanation for sequential request efficacy. Compared with nonsequenced critical requests (i.e., controls), substantially higher compliance with various types of requests was obtained through the use of the foot-in-the-door and the door-in-the-face techniques, but measures of underlying cognitions failed to reveal significant anchoring effects as would be predicted by a perceptual contrast model. Limitations are discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.