The Pique Technique: Overcoming Mindlessness or Shifting Heuristics?


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jerry M. Burger, Department of Psychology, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA 95053. E-mail:


An unusual request can increase compliance in situations in which the typical response to the request is refusal. This procedure, called the pique technique, is said to be effective because the unusual request causes people to give mindful consideration to it. We tested this explanation in 2 studies. Passersby were asked for either a common amount of change or 37 cents. Participants who inquired about the unusual amount were given either a specific or an uninformative reason. The pique technique increased compliance, but only when participants stopped to ask about the request. These participants gave more money, regardless of the reason provided. The findings failed to support the notion that an unusual request leads to a mindful consideration of it.