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Disrupt-then-reframe technique – highly effective influencing technique

The DTR or Disrupt-then-reframe technique is one of the most effective techniques to influence people rapidly. This technique increases your chances of getting agreed by the other person, so that you will be able to sell more stuff or get more people on your side.

DTR technique was introduced by Davis and Knowles in 1999. It is actually a small change in the form of words with some additions in a single speech. These changes in the words are out of the normal track, which the other person thinks, and are followed by a rational-sounding statement making sense to agree to the request of the talking person. All this shows the disruption and reframing of the statements.

Disrupt-then-reframe technique increase influence

Davis and Knowles presented two different conditions as follows;

  • They went to people and told them about 8 cards that were available at $3. In this “normal” way, they made sales at 40% of households.
  • In the other condition, i.e. DTR condition, they went to the people and told them about 8 cards that were available at the price of 300 pennies immediately followed by: “…it’s a bargain!” In this way, they made sales at 80% of households.

DTR technique has a good level of influence and the reason is distraction and sudden reframing. In the above example of DTR condition, people were firstly distracted by mentioning the amount in pennies rather than dollars. They started thinking for a moment about the price in dollars and why the person has told the amount in pennies and while they were thinking sudden reframing, in this case, “…it’s a bargain!” made them to think that it is good deal. Reframing works only within a moment of distraction.

In another study, researchers used childish words such as “halfcakes” instead of “cupcakes” and found them effective. In another study, researchers reversed the phrase “some money” to “money some” and found the change effective with sudden reframing of the mind.

In 2004, Fennis, Das, and Pruyn found that the DTR technique reduces the chances of counterarguments in which the customers or the person to whom we are talking may show dissent or opposition to the argument.

This technique has been studied many times on hundreds of participants and has been found effective as presented in the study by Carpenter & Boster in 2009. In fact this technique is stronger than the other standard persuasion techniques such as affirming autonomy.  Moreover, DTR technique enhances the benefits of the other influencing techniques.

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Further Reading:  accessed February 21, 2013

Carpenter, C., & Boster, F. (2009). A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Disrupt-Then-Reframe Compliance Gaining Technique Communication Reports, 22 (2), 55-62 DOI: 10.1080/08934210903092590

Fennis, B. M., Das, E. H. H. J., Pruyn, A. T. H. (2004). “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with nonsense”: Extending the impact of the disrupt-then-reframe technique of social influence. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14, 280-290.

Davis, Barbara Price; Knowles, Eric S., (1999). A disrupt-then-reframe technique of social influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 76(2), Feb 1999, 192-199.

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