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What Is Compliance In Psychology

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The Foot In The Door Technique

A-Level Psychology: Types and Explanations for Conformity

The Foot in the Door Technique

The foot in the door technique is a compliance tactic that assumes agreeing to a small request increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, larger request.

So, initially you make a small request and once the person agrees to this they find it more difficult to refuse a bigger one .

For example, imagine one of your friends missed the last psychology class and asked to borrow your notes. This is a small request that seems reasonable, so you lend the notes to your friend. A week later, the same friend asks to borrow all of your psychology notes. This is large request â would you agree or not?

The foot-in-the-door technique works on the principle of consistency. People prefer not to contradict themselves in both actions and beliefs. This means that as long as the request in consistent with or similar in nature to the original small request, the technique will work .

Sherman called residents inIndiana and asked them if,hypothetically, they would volunteerto spend 3 hours collecting for theAmerican Cancer Society.

Three days later, a secondexperimenter called the same peopleand actually requested help for thisorganization. Of those responding to the earlierrequest, 31% agreed to help.This is much higher than the 4% of asimilar group of people whovolunteered to help when approacheddirectly.

Compliance As A Means Of Fulfilling Needs

In complying with the requests of others and/or by following their actions, we seek to maintain the goals of social influence:

  • normative social influence
  • Informative social influence

    People are motivated to achieve their goals in the most efficient and accurate manner possible. When faced with information, an individual needs to correctly interpret and reactparticularly when faced with compliance-gaining attempts since an inaccurate behavior could result in great loss. With that being said, people attempt to gain an accurate construal of their situation so they may respond accordingly.

    Individuals are frequently rewarded for acting in accordance with the beliefs, suggestions and commands of figures and/or social norms. Among other sources, authority may be gained on the basis of societal power, setting and size. Individuals are likely to comply with an authority figure’s orders or replicate the actions deemed correct by social norms because of an assumption that the individual is unaware of some important information. The need to be accurateand the belief that others know something they do notoften supersedes the individuals personal opinion.

    Normative social influence

    General Overviews And Textbooks

    There are a number of sources, appropriate for different audiences, that provide overviews of the literature. These resources provide broad-level insights into social influence processes that would be informative for both academics and nonacademics. Both Milgram 1992 and Harkins, et al. 2017 provide useful, general overviews that are suitable for a range of audiences. Similarly, Cialdini 2001 would be useful for not only students but also those with nonacademic backgrounds who have an interest in social influence. In contrast, Cialdini and Griskevicius 2010 and Cialdini and Trost 1998 are geared more toward graduate students and researchers. Hogg 2010 provides a scholarly overview of social influence literature.

    Cialdini, R. B. 2001. Influence: Science and practice. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

    This book is among the most popular in any area of social psychology. It remains a popular text for classes on social influence but is sufficiently engaging with its effective use of real-world examples that is appealing to readers outside the academic context. This resource covers content including the six principles of influence: reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

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    The Milgram Experiment Showed The Surprising Degree To Which People Obey Authority Two Out Of Three Participants Continued To Administer Shocks To An Unresponsive Learner

    Several variations of the original Milgram experiment were conducted to test the boundaries of obedience. When certain features of the situation were changed, participants were less likely to continue to deliver shocks . For example, when the setting of the experiment was moved to an office building, the percentage of participants who delivered the highest shock dropped to 48%. When the learner was in the same room as the teacher, the highest shock rate dropped to 40%. When the teachers and learners hands were touching, the highest shock rate dropped to 30%. When the researcher gave the orders by phone, the rate dropped to 23%. These variations show that when the humanity of the person being shocked was increased, obedience decreased. Similarly, when the authority of the experimenter decreased, so did obedience.

    This case is still very applicable today. What does a person do if an authority figure orders something done? What if the person believes it is incorrect, or worse, unethical? In a study by Martin and Bull , midwives privately filled out a questionnaire regarding best practices and expectations in delivering a baby. Then, a more senior midwife and supervisor asked the junior midwives to do something they had previously stated they were opposed to. Most of the junior midwives were obedient to authority, going against their own beliefs.

    What Is The Definition Of Compliance In Psychology C2m

    Compliance Technique in Psychology
    • Non classé

    Often used by car sellers, low-balling gains compliance by offering the subject something at a lower price, only to increase the price at the last moment. It is more likely that the buyer will comply with this price change, as he believes that a mental agreement on a contract has taken place. Bibb Latané originally proposed social impact theory, which consists of three principles and contains far-reaching rules for these individual processes. General theory suggests that we consider social effects as the result of social forces acting in a social structure . The guiding principles of the theory can make game predictions about the impact of strength, immediacy, and number on compliance However, the Principles are not able to determine precise outcomes for future events. « Foot in the door » technology is a compliance tactic that assumes that accepting a small request increases the likelihood of accepting a second, larger request. The face-to-face technique is a method of compliance in which the persuader attempts to convince the respondent to stick to it by making a significant request that the respondent will most likely refuse. In the 1970s, psychologist Philip Zimbardo conducted an experiment in which participants played the role of guards and prisoners in a Scheingef prison set up in the basement of Stanford University`s Department of Psychology.

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    Understanding Compliance To Rules

    Avoiding process compliance breaches relies on every employee thoroughly complying to the health and safety procedures in place. Compliance is crucial for businesses to ensure safety, integrity, and ethical behaviour at all levels of an organisation.

    The challenges to compliance are all ultimately driven by human behaviour – it can be too easy for individuals to get caught in cycles of habitual and destructive behaviour.

    Generally speaking, employees know how to follow procedures, such as the correct way to perform a safety behaviour. Theyre just not doing it.

    For example, people are hard-wired to make their lives as simple as possible. As such, we prefer to take the path of least resistance, even if this means violating processes that are too complicated, despite knowing we are in the wrong.

    So what does this mean in practice? Business leaders need to work to remove barriers that over-complicate procedures, and make quality processes as simple as possible from the outset.

    Displayed By The Sift

    A theoretical approach uncommon in major psychology literature is David Straker’s, SIFT-3M model. It was created to discuss mental functioning in relation to psychological decisions . Straker proposes that by gaining a greater understanding of how people make sense of the world, how they think and how they decide to act, people can develop the basic tools needed to change others’ minds by gaining compliance. In inducing compliance, requestors must understand the 9 stages or levels:

  • sensing
  • In utilizing this technique, the subject is asked to perform a small requesta favor that typically requires minimal involvement. After this, a larger request is presented. According to “successive approximations”, because the subject complied with initial requests, they are more likely to feel obligated to fulfill additional favors.

    This technique begins with an initial grand request. This request is expected to be turned down thus, it is followed by a second, more reasonable request. This technique is decidedly more effective than foot-in-the-door since foot-in-the-door utilizes a gradual escalation of requests.

    Frequently employed by car salesmen, low-balling gains compliance by offering the subject something at a lower price only to increase the price at the last moment. The buyer is more likely to comply with this price change since they feel like a mental agreement to a contract has occurred.

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    Difference Between Conformity And Compliance

    Categorized under Miscellaneous | Difference Between Conformity and Compliance

    Both conformity and compliance involve behavioral change and are concepts associated with social psychology. They are often interchangeably used since compliance with is a synonym of conform. However, compliance is a momentary change of behavior and is defined as a type of conformity. The following discussions further delve into their distinctions.

    Factors That Influence Conformity

    Lecture 7: Compliance & Obedience || PSY 203: Social Psychology

    There are certain factors that can affect how likely people are to conform to the rest of the group.

    • Personal characteristics: Individual factors such as a persons overall personality and their goals can affect the degree to which they conform.
    • Situational factors: When people encounter situations where expectations are unclear or ambiguous, they may be more likely to look to others for information about what they should do and how they should behave.
    • Group size: Aschs classic conformity experiment found group size has an impact on conformity up to a certain point. People are most likely to conform when between three and five other people are present.
    • Status: People may be more likely to conform in situations where they feel that others have a higher status level than they do.
    • Belongingness: Conformity tends to be higher when people have a strong sense of identification and cohesion with the rest of the group.
    • Cultural influences: People from different cultural backgrounds may respond differently to social influences. In collectivist cultures, people are often more likely to conform to social expectations. People from individualist cultures may be less likely to do so.
    • Difficulty level: If people are unknowledgeable, uncertain, or inexperienced, they are more likely to conform to what others in the group are doing.

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    As A Product Of Variables

    Bibb Latané originally proposed the social impact theory that consists of three principles and provides wide-ranging rules that govern these individual processes. The general theory suggests we think of social impact as the result of social forces operating in a social structure . The theory’s driving principles can make directional predictions regarding the effects of strength, immediacy, and number on compliance however, the principles are not capable of specifying precise outcomes for future events.


    The stronger a groupthe more important it is to an individualthe more likely that individual is to comply with social influence.


    The proximity of the group makes an individual more likely to conform and comply with the group’s pressures. These pressures are strongest when the group is closer to the individual and composed of people the individual cares about and/or authority figures.


    Researches have found that compliance increases as the number of people in the group increases however, once the group reaches 4 or 5 people, compliance is less likely to occur. After this point, each additional person has less of an influencing effect. However, adding more members to a small group has a greater effect than adding more members to a larger group .


    The Effects Of Conformity

    Conformity can have a powerful influence on how people behave in different settings. It can potentially lead people to change their opinions and behaviors in a variety of ways.

    Conformity can play an important role in the learning and socialization process during child development.

    Kids often learn by watching and imitating the actions of others, a process that is known as observational learning. This can convey important information about what to do and how to behave in a variety of different situations.

    Social pressure continues to have an influence throughout life. People often alter their behavior, appearance, attitudes, or opinions in order to fit in with the rest of their social group.

    In many cases, members of the group may utilize a range of tactics including modeling, persuading, and even bullying to try to get other members of the group to conform to a certain set of expectations.

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    Philosophy Vs Social Psychology

    Philosophers view compliance in the context of arguments. Arguments are produced when an individual gives a reason for thinking that a claim is true. In doing so, they utilize premises to support their conclusion . Regardless of utilization of fallacy forms to get their point across, individuals engaged in philosophical arguments are overtly and logically expressing their opinion. This is an explicit action in which the person on the other side of the argument recognizes that the arguer seeks to gain compliance .

    In studying compliance, social psychologists aim to examine overt and subtle social influences experienced in various forms by all individuals. Implicit and explicit psychological processes are also studied since they shape interactions. This is because these processes explain how certain individuals can make another comply and why someone else succumbs to compliance.

    What Does Psychology Tell Us About Compliance

    Compliance Psychology

    Cognitive psychology gives insight into the factors determining our behaviour and suggests most behavioural influence occurs below the surface in our mental processing. Feelings and emotions can be easily observed by outward behaviour, but under the surface there are a number of interacting factors that contribute to the development of these. Learning, thoughts and beliefs, and social influence are all contributing factors.

    For example, based on the conditioning principles developed by psychologist B. F. Skinner, Behavioural Based Safety works on the assumption that behaviours are encouraged through rewards and positive reinforcement, or dissuaded through punishment.

    Applying these psychological learnings to behaviour in practice means leveraging a combination of methods that aim to influence behaviour by external and internal motivations for example, encouraging employees to choose to be safe, to acknowledge their own safety and the safety of those around them .

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    Compliance Refers To A Response Specifically A Submission Made In Reaction To An Implicit Or Explicit Request

    Learning Objective

    • Explain how certain strategies and group attributes may influence compliance

    Key Points

      • Social psychologists view compliance as a means of social influence used to reach goals or attain social or personal gains.
      • Group strength, group size, immediacy, and similarity are all factors that can influence compliance in an individual.
      • There are a number of techniques used to gain compliance, including the foot-in-the-door technique, the door-in-the-face technique, low-balling, ingratiation, and the norm of reciprocity.


    • The act of influencing one’s opinions or beliefs.

    Full Text

    In social psychology, “compliance” refers to an individual’s acquiescence in response to a request from a peer. It is generally distinguished from obedience and conformity .

    Compliance is considered a social phenomenon, meaning that the words, actions, or mere presence of other people often plays a role in someone’s decision whether or not to comply with a given request. The request may be explicit or implicit the target may or may not recognize that he or she is being urged to act in a particular way.

    Are Conformity And Obedience The Same

    While conformity and obedience share some similarities, they are different concepts. Conformity involves changing your behavior, thoughts, or appearance in order to fit in with the rest of your social group. Obedience involves following the orders of another person, often a person with authority or status.

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    Why Do People Care About Fitting In

    Belonging is a basic human need. Human beings are inherently social creatures, so being accepted by others is a way to gain a sense of community and closeness. In broader terms, social cohesion plays an important role in the success of a group. Conformity can allow groups to meet their goals, increase social harmony, and minimize interpersonal conflict.

    Is It Easy To Gain Compliance

    Social Psychology: Compliance and Group Effects on Performance

    As mentioned above there are a lot of techniques for gaining compliance from others. Researchers have indicated that often these techniques are successful. Research by Flynn and lake shows that people often underestimate the success of gaining compliance. In one experiment researchers asked participants, that how likely people would agree to their requests such as borrowing a phone or making a charity. They found that participants underestimated compliance by 50 percent. Flynn and lake found two interesting things for explaining the underestimate of compliance

  • The people making requests focus on the cost of saying yes to the request. They focus on the time and the cost if the target person says yes.
  • The people on the receiving end focus on the no of the request. They focus on how saying no may put them in the wrong light, such as making them feel selfish or rude.
  • Therefore, its safe to say that gaining compliance is easier than you may think.

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    Why Do People Conform To What Others Are Doing

    One factor that can play a role in conformity is a phenomenon known as social proof. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon first described by psychologist Robert Cialdini in which people copy the actions of others in order to know how to act in a certain situation. This idea stems from the assumption that if other people are doing something, it must be the correct thing to do.

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