Say that I wanted to convince a person that oranges tasted nice. One particular method I could use would be to go on an hour long spiel, where I take on two voices - a hyperbolic voice (which says that we should ONLY eat oranges every single day because they are LITERALLY the best tasting thing ever) and a rational voice (which is more subtle, gives reasonable arguments as to why oranges taste nice like 'they have high sugar content', and is generally less explosive)

After hearing the hyperbolic "WE SHOULD ONLY EAT ORANGES" message, which the person will probably immediately reject, it seems likely that the person will accept the more rational message that 'oranges taste pretty nice' as a compromise.

This might sound very vague, but I feel like I've read about this theory (in some form) a few years ago, I just can't remember what it's called? Is there a specific term in psychology for this effect, or does this make no sense?

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    $\begingroup$ I would be interested in this as well - normally an extreme view would have a counter-polarizing effect (subject likely to dislike oranges more). But there is a similar effect where say someone has an existing viewpoint (doesn't like oranges), then taking an extreme version of that view (oranges are the worst thing ever), would soften their original attitude about oranges (maybe I should give oranges another chance). This is the study here: pnas.org/content/111/30/10996 $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Oct 12, 2016 at 2:11

1 Answer 1


There are several cognitive biases which describe why people are often more likely to accept a position after being presented with an unreasonable position.


Focalism or anchoring is the cognitive bias in which humans rely heavily on the first piece of presented information (the anchor) to make subsequent judgments. From the wiki definition:

For example, the initial price offered for a used car sets the standard for the rest of the negotiations, so that prices lower than the initial price seem more reasonable even if they are still higher than what the car is really worth.

Door-in-the-face technique

The DITF method is a compliance manipulation technique in which a persuader attempts to convince a respondent to agree or comply with an argument by initially making a substantial and unreasonable request, and then when it is turned down, making a second more reasonable request. See Cialdini (1975) for the founding investigation.


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