The Right “Frame” of Mind

Dr. Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University is well known for his research on influence. In his popular book, “Influence: Science and Practice,” Dr. Cialdini explains one of his classic experiments:

Posing as representatives of the “County Youth Counseling Program,” we approached college students walking on campus and asked if they would be willing to chaperone a group of juvenile delinquents on a day trip to the zoo. This idea of being responsible for a group of juvenile delinquents of unspecified age for hours in a public place without pay was hardly an inviting one for these students. As we expected, the great majority (83 percent) refused. Yet we obtained very different results from a similar sample of college students who were asked the very same question with one difference. Before we invited them to serve as unpaid chaperones on the zoo trip, we asked them for an even larger favor—to spend two hours per week as counselors to juvenile delinquents for a minimum of two years. It was only after they refused this extreme request, as all did, that we made the small, zoo-trip request. By presenting the zoo trip as a retreat from our initial request, our success rate increased dramatically. Three times as many of the students approached in this manner volunteered to serve as zoo chaperones.

This study cemented Cialdini’s beliefs about the importance of “framing” a request in relation to another larger request. Dentists could conceivably apply this technique in almost any treatment plan by presenting the most expensive option first, and then describing alternative options in descending order of cost. What are your thoughts on this approach? Does it work in other areas of your life, too?

Thank you to Dr. Gregory Sawyer for turning me on to this idea.

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3 comments so far

  1. Albert Waning on

    Hi Keith, I firmly believe in this approach and use it in various ways. The most ‘obvious’ is when I show excellent multi-layer, multi-opacity restorations with the maximum esthetics (which we know many people do not have the time, patience or interest to do), and follow that with results that people can also obtain with one layer Supreme XTE restorations …

    Take care, Al

    • 3M ESPE on

      Hi Al,
      Thanks for your post and dental example with Filtek Supreme.

  2. matt cromie on

    matt cromie
    Just came across your page whilst seraching matt cromie site I must say you have some great examples of work well done!


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