The Door in the Face Theory and the Sacramento Kings

Image by David Hoyt

In college I took a class called “Persuasion.” This was an upper division elective for communication majors that looked at various theories related to persuading people to do things.  One of my favorites is called the “door in the face (DITF), ” where the first request that is made is so outrageous that there is no way it will be accepted and the door will be slammed in your face. Then a second request is made that is much less than the first request, and this smaller request is viewed as a concession.

The examples most often made using DITF are related to charitable and political contributions. For example, “If you donate $5,000 then we put your name on a building, and put you on our board. Can’t afford $5,000? How about $100 and we give you a t-shirt?”  The goal all along might have been to secure a $100 donation, which to the giver now seems like a bargain amount to give to help their favorite charity.

How does this relate to the Sacramento Kings moving to Anaheim?  It does, because I don’t think the Maloofs want to take the team to Anaheim. I think they want to sell the team, under the perceived duress of the NBA, or move it to Las Vegas.  So they say “We want to move to be the third team in the Los Angeles market!” Door in the face provided by the Lakers who are one of the most powerful teams in the NBA.  “Ok, how about we move the team to Las Vegas?” Or, how about if we can’t move it, you buy it from us and we buy another team?”

So, if you want something, ask for something much bigger first.


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