Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 10: The norm of reciprocity: Treating others as they treat you (pp. 360365)

Ask Yourself?

In this topic

  1. Returning Favors (pp. 361362)
  2. The Norm of Reciprocity for Concessions (pp. 362365)
    1. The door-in-the-face technique
    2. Reciprocity of concessions on the sales floor
Returning Favors

One of the most prevalent social norms directs us to return to others favors, goods, and services that they offer to us. This is the norm of social reciprocity.

This norm can sometimes be activated to our disadvantage.

The Norm of Reciprocity for Concessions
The door-in-the-face technique

The door-in-the-face technique consists of making a large request and following its refusal with a concession that invokes the norm of reciprocity.

Three conditions must exist to activate the norm of reciprocity when using the door-in-the-face technique. First, the initial request must be large enough that it is sure to be refused, but not so large that it will breed suspicion. Second, the target must be given the chance to compromise by refusing the initial request and complying with the second request. Third, the second request must be related to the first request, and come from the same person.

Reciprocity of concessions on the sales floor

Research activity: Reciprocity of concessions on the salesfloor

So what does this mean?

The norm of social reciprocity is the most prevalent social norm, and it directs us to return favors to others. Salespeople, sometimes to our disadvantage, often use this norm. Concessions are supposed to be reciprocated as well. This norm is used in the door-in-the-face technique. This technique consists of making a large request and following its refusal with a concession that invokes returning a concession. Other techniques used are the that's-not-all technique, and selling the top of the line.

Next topic

The norm of commitment: Keeping your promises

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 10 introduction
  2. Norms: Effective guides for social behavior
  3. The norm of reciprocity: Treating others as they treat you
  4. The norm of commitment: Keeping your promises
  5. The norm of obedience: Submitting to authority
  6. Rebellion and resistance: Fighting back
  7. Putting it all together: Multiple guides for behavior
  8. Chapter overview (PDF)
  9. Fill-in-the-blanks
  10. Multiple-choice questions