A Relational Obligations Approach to the Foot-In-The-Mouth Effect

Authors

  • R. Kelly Aunel,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Speech Communication University of Hawaii at Manoa
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. R. Kelly Aune, Department of Speech Communication, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822.
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  • Michael D. Basil

    1. Department of Mass Communication University of Denver
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Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. R. Kelly Aune, Department of Speech Communication, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822.

Abstract

An earlier study by Howard (1990) employed a “foot-in-the-mouth” approach (FITM) to increase the frequency of compliance with charitable requests. This effect was explained through consistency theory: People are more likely to comply with a request for a charitable donation if the person making the request first asks the potential donor how he or she is feeling, and then acknowledges the donor's response. The potential donor was expected to behave in accordance with his or her publicly stated feeling-state. However, some of the compliance in Howard's study may be attributable to an increased perception of relationship between the requester and donor (Roloff, 1987). Not only was the donor required to be consistent with his or her publicly stated feeling-state, but the donor had to behave in a manner consistent with the relationship implied by the requester. Two studies examined this possibility. The first study found a FITM approach that manipulated only relational obligations consistency resulted in higher rates of compliance than both the standard and feeling-state FITM approach. A second study examined the mechanism for this increased compliance. Results show that although both FITM approaches produced more positive relational perceptions between the requester and donor than the standard approach, the relational obligations approach produced more positive relational perceptions than did the other FITM approach.

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