The Use of Metacommunication in Compliance: Door-in-the-Face and Single-Request Strategies

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Department or Administrative Unit


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Investigation of compliance techniques has generally overlooked a dynamic involving a target's dilemma over directly commenting about the imposition of the requester's behavior. Such behavior is generally classified as being metacommunicative in nature. In two studies, the authors tested the hypothesis that compliance can be enhanced when the target is asked to metacommunicate about the appropriateness of an imposition in order to refuse it. American participants were exposed to door-in-the-face (DITF) and single-request strategies that used either metacommunicative or standard language. Although metacommunicative DITF strategies yielded significant compliance effects, the obtained levels were not significantly greater than those of standard DITF strategies. However, when communication style (metacommunicative language) was considered independent of strategy, significant overall effects were found. Therefore, the use of metacommunicative binds in the language of single requests may facilitate compliance.


This article was originally published in The Journal of Social Psychology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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The Journal of Social Psychology