Consistency-based Compliance in Children: When and Why Do Consistency Procedures Have Immediate Effects?

Nancy Eisenberg, Robert B. Cialdini, Heather McCreath, Rita Shell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the nature and development of behavioural consistency pressures in children. Specifically, the effectiveness of the foot-in-the-door procedure on subsequent verbally reported prosocial intentions and enacted intentions was examined with preschoolers/kindergarters, second, and fifth graders. Children were either induced to comply with a request to share prize coupons or were not given this initial prosocial experience. Those who were induced to comply either were or were not labelled as helpful by an adult. Immediately, after, children were asked to indicate how they would behave in a number of situations in which prosocial behaviour was an option, and to enact two such situations behaviourally. Moreover, children's understanding of trait stability, their internal preference for consistent behaviour, and their belief that adults prefer behavioural consistency were assessed. The foot-in-the-door procedure resulted in consistent responding for children with a basic understanding of traits. Further, for girls, its strength was significantly affected by the children's internal preference for consistency. In addition, the ability to label traits was positively associated with young children's verbally reported prosocial behaviour and young girls' enacted behaviour. The findings are interpreted as supporting the view that both socio-cognitive and motivational factors moderate the immediate effects of the foot-in-the-door procedure on the report and enactment of positive behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-367
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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