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The pique persuasion technique plays on our curiosity and it’s surprisingly effective

09 June 2017

“Sorry to bother you – I’m just after three pounds sixty-five for a bus ticket to Bromley.”

Living in an urban area you frequently hear this kind of request, which showcases a persuasion approach called the “pique technique”, whereby people are more likely to comply with requests for an unusually specific quantity, because it piques their interest.

But do people really give more readily, or in higher amounts, when exposed to the technique? A meta-analysis in the journal Social Influence puts pique through its paces.

The technique was first investigated in the nineties by a trio of researchers – Michael Santos, Craig Leve and Anthony Pratkanis – with experimental assistants posing as panhandlers on Santa Cruz wharf and asking passers-by for either 17 cents or a quarter.

They found the unusual sum led to more compliance from the passers-by, and so to more coinage in the cup.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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