Consistency-Based Compliance: When and Why Do Children Become Vulnerable?

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This study examines the nature and development of behavioral consistency pressures in children. Specifically, we examined the effectiveness of the foot-in-the-door procedure in producing consistent prosocial behavior and self-attributions in kindergartners and 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 complied either were labeled as helpful by an adult or were not. Later, children were given the opportunity to help under public or private circumstances. Moreover, children's understanding of trait stability, their internal preference for consistent behavior, and their belief that adults prefer behavioral consistency were assessed. Consistent responding began to occur within the foot-in-the-door procedure in the second grade, and this developmental shift was paralleled by a shift in children's understanding of trait stability. Furthermore, once the foot-in-the-door effect appeared among the second and fifth graders, its strength was significantly affected by the children's internal preference for consistency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1174-1181
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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