How to use reverse psychology
Getting People to Do Something By Asking for the Opposite – Effectiviology
Reverse psychology is a manipulation technique that involves getting people to do something by prompting them to do the opposite. Reverse psychology can take various forms, such as forbidding the target behavior, questioning the person’s ability to perform the target behavior, and encouraging the opposite of the target behavior.
For example, a parent might use reverse psychology on their child by telling them “you probably won’t be able to eat all this broccoli”, in order to get their child to finish the broccoli.
People use reverse psychology in a wide variety of situations, so it’s important to understand this concept. As such, in the following article you will learn more about reverse psychology, see how you can use it yourself, and understand what you can do when people try to use it on you.
Examples of reverse psychology
A simple example of reverse psychology is telling someone that a certain athletics program is hard to get into so they shouldn’t bother applying, if you believe that doing so will cause the person to do the opposite and apply.
This and similar forms of reverse psychology are often used by parents on their children, particularly when the child is highly rebellious and tries to do the opposite of what their parents tell them to do. For example, one paper on the topic provides the following example of reverse psychology in parenting:
“Brown’s son has developed a fascination for a particularly annoying melody… which he now hums or whistles frequently. He is also extremely contrary where Brown is concerned, especially in cooperative settings. He seeks wherever possible to do the opposite of what Brown wants him to do and sabotages or refuses to participate in any joint enterprise with Brown. Knowing this, Brown now responds to his son’s annoying humming by cheerfully joining in, with the hoped for result that his son stops humming.”
In this case, the reverse psychology involves encouraging a certain negative behavior, in the hopes that doing so will get the target person to stop engaging in it.
Another example of reverse psychology is when people say negative things about something that they care about, in an attempt to get others to say positive things about it. In particular, people often use this form of reverse psychology by saying bad things about themself, with the goal of prompting others to come to their defense and give them compliments and reassurances. For example, this can involve someone saying “I look bad today”, in an attempt to get someone else to say that that’s not true.
In addition, reverse psychology is also frequently used in business as a marketing and sales tactic. For example, one study on the topic describes several ways in which companies use reverse psychology in marketing, together with relevant examples from past campaigns:
“…marketers have utilized reverse psychology as a way to:
(1) promote a product to the entire market, without deliberatively excluding a specific market segment (e.g. Little Caesar’s “Do not call this number” “Do not visit our website” campaign)…
(2) promote a product to a certain targeted segment while purposefully excluding another (e. g. Dr. Pepper’s “Not for women” campaign)…
(3) promote a certain company or brand image (e.g. Patagonia sustainability initiative “Do not buy this jacket”).”
Finally, a humorous example of reverse psychology appears in a short paper titled “Certificate in Reverse Psychology probably not worth it”, published in a medical journal, which contains the following text:
“After reviewing a large amount of data we have concluded that you probably don’t want to apply for the official certificate in Reverse Psychology, even though the fee is so reasonable that you won’t believe it…
Whatever you do, do not send money to the corresponding author to learn how to apply for this exclusive opportunity today. Your patients do not want you to learn about this simple secret, and it’s probably not worth it.”
While this example is humorous, it nevertheless mirrors many real and serious uses of reverse psychology, in a variety of fields.
How reverse psychology works
The main reason why reverse psychology works is that when people feel pressured to act a certain way, they often prefer to do the opposite in order to assert their autonomy. This is based on Brehm’s reactance theory, which suggests that:
“…an individual who feels a threat to his or her sense of freedom will experience discomfort that motivates re-establishment of that freedom. Such reactance motivation should increase the likelihood of nonconformity to influence attempts. In these situations an influence source may have success by misrepresenting his or her true desires assuming that the target’s proclivity for disagreement will result in the target adopting the position that the source secretly desires.”
Accordingly, reverse psychology works especially well on people who tend to disagree with what they’re told or with orders that they’re given (such people are sometimes referred to in this context as nonconformists, anticonformists, or contrarians). Note that some people tend to disagree with others in general, while others tend to only do so in specific contexts, or when it comes to specific people, such as authority figures.
In addition, there are other factors that can cause reverse psychology techniques to work in particular cases. For example, in a situation where someone is told by an annoying colleague that it’s impossible to do something, they might be driven to do that thing out of spite for that colleague.
Overall, reverse psychology works primarily because when people feel pressured to act a certain way, they try to do the opposite in order to assert their autonomy and increase their sense of control. Furthermore, in certain situations, reverse psychology can also work for additional reasons, such as spite for others.
Note: reverse psychology techniques are sometimes referred to as “paradoxical”, because they involve prompting people to do one thing while hoping that they will do the opposite.
Reverse reverse psychology
Reverse reverse psychology is a manipulation technique that involves prompting people to do exactly what you want them to do, while also causing them to think that you’re using reverse psychology on them and wanted them to do the opposite. Essentially, reverse reverse psychology relies on getting the target person to think that you’re using reverse psychology on them, in order to get them to defy your attempts and do what you originally prompted them to do, which is what you wanted them to do all along.
For example, reverse reverse psychology could involve telling someone rebellious to not do something, in what seems like an attempt to get them to do it through reverse psychology, while in reality you’re trying to push them to not do that thing after all.
As such, reverse reverse psychology is a specific form of reverse psychology. Furthermore, it’s possible to go ‘deeper’ in terms of levels of manipulation, for example by using reverse reverse reverse psychology. However, past a certain point, doing this becomes no different, in practice, than using basic reverse psychology and reverse reverse psychology.
How to use reverse psychology
The following is a list of the main ways in which you can use reverse psychology in practice:
- Forbid the target behavior (e. g. “don’t do X”).
- Discourage the target behavior (e.g. “you shouldn’t do X”).
- Say negative things about the target behavior (e.g. “X is so bad, who would want it”).
- Predict that the target person won’t engage in the target behavior (e.g. “you probably won’t do X”).
- Question the target person’s ability to perform the target behavior (e.g. “you probably couldn’t do X well”).
- Encourage the opposite of the target behavior (e.g. “you should do Y, since it’s so much better than X”).
There are many situations where you can use reverse psychology, and different approaches to it will work better in different situations. For example, if you’re trying to get a rebellious person to do something, and you know that they defy authority figures as a matter of principle, your preferred course of action will likely be to forbid the target behavior that you want them to engage in. On the other hand, if you want to get someone to agree with your stance but know that they always disagree with everything you say, you can express support for the stance that’s opposite from the one that you truly support, if you believe that this will cause your target to argue in favor of your original stance.
In addition, you also need to make sure that you’re not acting in a way that could backfire and cause the target person to do what you’re suggesting directly, since that’s the opposite of what you actually want them to do. For example, consider a situation where you’re trying to get someone to pick one of two options through reverse psychology, by presenting your preferred option in a negative manner, and hoping that it will cause them to pick it. Here, you will often need to strike a balance between presenting your preferred option in a way that’s negative enough for the reverse psychology to work, but not so negative that it causes the target person to avoid it.
Finally, when using reverse psychology, you generally want to do so in a matter that’s as subtle as possible given the circumstances, to avoid having the other person notice it. Specifically, if the target person realizes what you’re doing then the reverse psychology will generally fail and they will often not act the way you want them to. Furthermore, because this technique is inherently manipulative, it can damage your relationship with the other person if they figure out what you’re doing.
Overall, you can use reverse psychology in various ways, such as by forbidding the target behavior, questioning a person’s ability to perform the target behavior, and encouraging the opposite of the target behavior. Different approaches will work better in different scenarios, and when using reverse psychology, it’s important to be subtle about it, but to also make sure that you’re not acting in a way that could lead the target person to act the opposite way of what you actually want them to do.
Deciding whether to use reverse psychology
There are two main dangers that are associated with using reverse psychology:
- The reverse psychology can backfire, and cause the target to pursue the directly suggested course of action instead of the intended opposite. This can happen, for example, if the target trusts you and chooses to follow what you said, or if they lack confidence and you doubting their abilities causes them to give up. In addition, this issue can also arise if the target person notices the attempted manipulation, and ends up following the original suggestion in order to defy you.
- If the person notices the attempted manipulation, this can damage your relationship. For example, if a person notices that you’re trying to use reverse psychology on them, it can cause them to be angry at you, to distrust your motives, or to feel confused regarding what you actually want. This is especially an issue if you have a close relationship with that person, and people can react strongly to the use of reverse psychology, because it represents an attempt to influence their actions in a deceptive manner.
When deciding how to use reverse psychology, and whether to even use it at all, it’s important to keep these dangers in mind. For example, if the potential benefits of reverse psychology are low, but the potential risks of using it are high, it’s likely better to avoid it, and try using a more direct approach instead
In particular, some specific factors that you should consider are how likely the reverse psychology is to work, how likely the other person is to notice it, how they will probably react if they do notice it. This means, for example, that you might want to use reverse psychology if the other person is unlikely to notice it or react negatively, but that you should avoid this technique if there’s a good chance that the other person will notice it and react badly.
Furthermore, you should consider the likelihood that the other person will follow the original course of action being suggested instead of the reverse and the consequences of this happening. The more likely this issue is to occur, and the worse its consequences are, the warier you should be about using reverse psychology.
Finally, note that because the use of reverse psychology can be problematic from a moral perspective, you also want to ask yourself whether it’s something that you truly want to do, even if the risks involved are minimal. When doing this, it can help to keep the golden rule in mind, which denotes that you should treat others the way you want to be treated yourself.
Using reverse reverse psychology
In some situations, you might choose to reverse reverse psychology, rather than basic reverse psychology. For example, this might be the case in situations where the other person might be expecting you to try and use reverse psychology on them, so reverse reverse psychology will be more effective.
However, there are two important caveats to keep in mind with regard to this:
- First, this approach relies on the target person noticing the attempt at reverse psychology, which, as noted above, can lead to interpersonal issues in some cases.
- Second, the ‘deeper’ you go in terms of layers of deception, the more difficult it becomes to predict the other’s behavior, which makes the results of this approach relatively hard to predict.
Other than that, reverse reverse psychology can be implemented in a similar manner to regular reverse psychology.
How to deal with someone using reverse psychology on you
The first step to dealing with someone using reverse psychology is to realize that they’re doing it. To do this, ask yourself what’s the likelihood that the person who you think is using reverse psychology is pretending to push you in a certain direction in order to get you to do the opposite. When in doubt, take the time to slowly think through the situation, and consider factors such as what this person stands to gain from pushing you in a certain direction, and how they’ve acted toward you and toward others in the past.
Furthermore, make sure to account for the possibility that the other person is trying to use reverse reverse psychology on you, rather than simple reverse psychology. However, to avoid falling into a thinking trap, where you obsess over endless possible levels of manipulations, try to not go beyond just a few levels of deception. Instead, focus on simply assessing the situation to the best of your ability.
Once you’ve successfully identified that someone is attempting to use reverse psychology on you, you need to choose your optimal course of action. Some notable things you can do are the following:
- Ask the other person for more information. This can help you verify that they’re using reverse psychology, and can give you more time to think, while also creating opportunities for the other person to mess up and expose information that will help you make a better decision.
- Call out the other person out on their use of reverse psychology. This can be beneficial in some cases, though there are situations where it’s more useful to pretend that you didn’t notice the attempted manipulation.
- Go with the originally suggested course of action, the opposite course of action, or a different alternative. Which option is the best for you depends on your particular circumstances, and on what you’re hoping to achieve. The most important thing is to focus on what’s best for you, rather than on what the other person is trying to get you to do, either directly or indirectly.
When you do this, try to consider the situation and your options in a non-emotional manner. You can use various debiasing techniques to help you with this; for example, you can slow down your reasoning process and write things down to help you think, or you can create favorable conditions for decision-making by creating some distance from the person who’s using the reverse psychology.
Overall, to deal with someone using reverse psychology on you, you should first recognize what they’re doing. Then, you should think through your options in a rational manner and pick your best course of action, which can include things such as asking the other person for more information, calling them out for their use of reverse psychology, or following an entirely different course of action than the ones that they mentioned.
Notes on terminology
A formal scientific term that’s sometimes used to refer to the concept of reverse psychology is strategic self-anticonformity. The rationale for this term is that the person using the reverse psychology technique is publicly acting in a way that contradicts their true intentions for strategic reasons (i.e. to get someone else to follow a certain course of action). This term is adapted from the diamond model of social response, which was later developed into the double diamond model of social response, primarily by researchers Paul R. Nail and Geoff MacDonald.
In addition, because reverse psychology revolves around getting a person to defy what they’re told to do directly, it is sometimes referred to as a defiance-based technique, in contrast with compliance-based techniques, which revolve around getting a person to comply with what they’re told. However, reverse psychology as a whole is sometimes referred to as a compliance technique, since it is used to get people to comply with an intended course of action, even if they’re not aware that they’re complying.
There are some related psychological phenomena that are associated with the concept of reverse psychology. These include, most notably:
- The boomerang effect. The boomerang effect occurs when a strategic message, that is meant to achieve a specific effect, leads to an opposite attitude or behavior than was originally intended. For example, the boomerang effect can be said to play a role if someone ends up disliking something, as a result of being repeatedly told how great it is in an annoying manner.
- The backfire effect. The backfire effect is a cognitive bias that causes people who encounter evidence that challenges their beliefs to reject that evidence, and to strengthen their support of their original stance. For example, the backfire effect can be said to play a role if someone who believes in some myth is presented with evidence that disproves it, and ends up rejecting that evidence and strengthening their support for the myth.
Summary and conclusions
- Reverse psychology is a manipulation technique that involves getting people to do something by prompting them to do the opposite.
- For example, a parent might use reverse psychology on their child by telling them “you probably won’t be able to eat all this broccoli”, in order to get their child to finish the broccoli.
- Reverse psychology works primarily because when people feel pressured to act a certain way, they try to do the opposite in order to assert their autonomy and increase their sense of control.
- You can use reverse psychology in various ways, such as discouraging the target behavior or encouraging the opposite; however, before you do this, make sure that reverse psychology is the right course of action, and consider its potential downsides, such as the damage that it can cause to your relationships.
- To deal with someone using reverse psychology on you, you should first recognize what they’re doing, and then think through your options and pick your best course of action, which can include things such as asking the other person for more information, calling them out on their behavior, or following a different course of action than the ones they mentioned.
9 Ways to Use Reverse Psychology in Your Relationship
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In today's day and age where everything can be Googled, it seems many people have forgotten the power of words. In particular, not everyone knows how to use words to control situations and get what they want.
Some may think that being straightforward is the only way or that it's just not worth it if you can't be clear with your intentions. Others believe this approach may bring about unnecessary conflict.
However, there are many possible outcomes of using words carefully, including creating more desirable situations by getting people to do what you want. This tactic is called reverse psychology.
What You Will Learn
- What is Reverse Psychology?
- How can I use Reverse Psychology?
- Work relationships and Reverse Psychology
- How can I avoid being tricked by this technique?
- What if I'm wrong?
- What Are the Pros and Cons of Reverse Psychology?
- Pros of Using Reverse Psychology
- Cons of Using Reverse Psychology
- Why Use Reverse Psychology?
- 9 Specific Strategies for How to Use Reverse Psychology to Get People to Do what you Want
- 1. When you want your partner to do something simple, let them make the decision.
- 2. Use a little white lie to get them to do what you want.
- 3. You must create a sense of scarcity to get your partner to do what you want.
- 4. Let them think they thought of the idea first.
- 5. Express something negative about your idea first to get them interested.
- 6. This approach can create a fun and playful dynamic between the two people because it's less serious than direct communication.
- 7. This approach can work really well when someone wants to buy something but is waiting for a better deal.
- 8. When you think someone wants to say no but is afraid of hurting your feelings, reverse psychology can be the perfect way to get what you want.
- 9. Use big words and confusing sentences so they will feel like they know more than you and can therefore make the decision.
- Final Thoughts about How to Use Reverse Psychology
What is Reverse Psychology?
It's a form of manipulation (although not always). It occurs when someone says something or acts in a way opposite to what they actually want. As a result, the other person will often do what they really want or need to do. Most people won't know that they were manipulated, but deep down inside they may feel like they want to give in.
One example is when parents tell their child that she cannot eat candy before dinner. The reverse psychology works when the child gobbles down her candy because she knows it will upset Mommy and Daddy. Reverse psychology can also be used in romantic relationships.
Reverse psychology was first named and studied in the mid-1900s by psychoanalysts. They discovered that this tactic is usually used during mental illness or when people face severe stress. However, it has recently been found to be an effective problem-solving technique for relationship conflicts too.
In a relationship, this is especially useful when you want something from your partner but don't feel like fighting for it. However, if you're going to use reverse psychology as a tactic to get what you want from someone else, be wary of the risks and know that there are no guarantees.
How can I use Reverse Psychology?
In terms of words, use indirect statements and comments to get someone else to do what you want. Meanwhile, stay focused on what you really want and avoid getting caught up in unneeded details.
As opposed to being straightforward about your intentions, try doing the opposite. This may work especially well with people who are more dominant than you. For example, if you're a follower and not the leader of the relationship, reverse psychology can be used as a way to get your partner to do things for you.
Using reverse psychology is not guaranteed to get you what you want, so there are some risks. For example, if your partner knows that you're using reverse psychology on them, they may feel manipulated or tricked. They may also feel like they can never trust you again because of how sneaky this technique is.
Other risks include both of you not getting what you need out of the relationship. This can create more conflict and problems than there were in the first place.
Work relationships and Reverse Psychology
In terms of work relationships, reverse psychology can work – to an extent. You do have to play the “game” at work so that you can maintain a good reputation. Being indirect can help avoid controversial topics. Making your boss think it is his idea to buy pizza every week or purchase new office equipment is a sly move!In a relationship, this is especially useful when you want something from your partner but don't feel like fighting for it.
When negotiating a contract, put all reverse psychology aside and be very straight forward. Pretending you only want 5000 when you really want 5 million simply won't work in the legal details of a contract. However, I must say my personal experience shows that when I acted indifferent to people at work who I actually did want to talk to, they became more interested and friendly towards me.
However, reverse psychology can be used in some work relationships on occasion. It's best to use it when trying to keep relations as smooth as possible. One should be more direct with work responsibilities and contracts though!
How can I avoid being tricked by this technique?
Be wary, since there are no guarantees when it comes to reverse psychology. If know your partner's personality, then you may catch on quicker. For example, if they're suspicious or think that everyone is like this, then it may be best not to use reverse psychology on them.
What if I'm wrong?
If you find out later on that you didn't need to use reverse psychology and just could have asked for what you wanted directly – great! It's OK to learn from your mistakes. Just don't be upset when someone doesn't give in, because it's their choice not to do what you want.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Reverse Psychology?
Just because reverse psychology might not be an ethical method to use, that doesn't mean it should never be used at all. The pros and cons can help you determine if using this tactic is right for your specific situation.
Pros of Using Reverse Psychology
1. You get what you want without having to fight for it.
2. Your partner may have less resistance to your ideas or requests.
3. You are being creative and thinking outside the box.
4. You build trust with your significant other by reassuring them that they can trust you too.
Cons of Using Reverse Psychology
1. You may feel guilty or uncomfortable for doing something sneaky or deceptive.
2. Your partner may feel tricked, used, or disrespected.
3. You have no guarantees that this tactic will work every time—it's not foolproof!
4. It might only cause more problems and fights between the two of you in the long run.
5. It may become a habit that affects other parts of your relationship.
Why Use Reverse Psychology?
There are many reasons why someone might choose to use reverse psychology instead of being direct. Here are some examples:
1. You may use this tactic if you have a shy or introverted personality. Being direct might feel too awkward or embarrassing. It can also come off as too harsh or critical, so this is often an easier alternative.
2. You may want to try reverse psychology when your partner does not seem to be listening, understanding, or caring about what you are saying. They may have the same opinion no matter what you say or do.When negotiating a contract, put all reverse psychology aside and be very straight forward.
3. You may use this method if you know that your partner will likely reject what you are saying no matter how nice or polite you phrase it. If you don't feel like the other person will listen to you or consider your feelings or opinions, teasing them and pushing their buttons might be a better tactic.
4. You may use reverse psychology when you know this is something your partner really wants, but they aren't willing to admit it or ask for it. This can save you from having another argument about what you need or want in the future.
5. This tactic can build trust by making the other person feel like they can totally trust you. They will know that you would never lie to them, so they don't need to question anything you say or do.
6. This approach can create a fun and playful dynamic between the two people because it's less serious than direct communication.
7. Reverse psychology is useful if you want to avoid hurting someone's feelings or starting an argument.
8. You might choose to use this tactic when you feel powerless or in a bad position. When someone is in control, this type of communication will make them think they came up with the idea all by themselves!
9. This approach can be used when neither person in the relationship wants to back down from an argument. Reverse psychology can turn the argument around in your favor.
10. You might choose to use reverse psychology if you are trying to get out of trouble about something bad that you did.
11. Using this tactic can make someone fall completely in love with you because they don't even realize you are tricking them!
12. This approach can be great for people with passive personalities. Sometimes these individuals might not want to hurt someone's feelings, so they won't ever say no. Reverse psychology can solve this problem.
13. You may like using reverse psychology because it's a simple and easy way to get other people to do what you want without having to be pushy or ask many times.
9 Specific Strategies for How to Use Reverse Psychology to Get People to Do what you Want
1. When you want your partner to do something simple, let them make the decision.
This can be a great way to get someone to help around the house. For example: “Hey, would you mind taking out the trash?” Or if they're watching TV when you need them for something: “I could really use some help with something.”
2. Use a little white lie to get them to do what you want.
This approach works well if your partner is being stubborn and they will definitely believe whatever you say that agrees with their opinion/position on something. For example: “Honey, I couldn't agree more! You were 100% right about everything. There's no way I could have been right.”
3. You must create a sense of scarcity to get your partner to do what you want.
They will only be willing to do whatever it is because they think they can't lose out on the opportunity. For example: “I've been chasing this promotion at work forever and now that it's finally mine, I'm not gonna let it go. This is my dream job and I need to focus on my career right now.”
4. Let them think they thought of the idea first.
Reverse psychology works because your partner will feel like they are in control, but you're really pulling all the strings! For example: “You know what would be so nice right now? If you would do the dishes.”
5. Express something negative about your idea first to get them interested.
Reverse psychology is all about selling the concept of doing what you want, not necessarily doing it! For example: “I'm really tired and I don't feel like cooking tonight. Do you want to just order takeout?”
For example: “Honey, I'm sick of you always leaving your clothes on the floor. If you do it again, I'll put them in the dryer!”Using reverse psychology is not guaranteed to get you what you want, so there are some risks.
7. This approach can work really well when someone wants to buy something but is waiting for a better deal.
For example: “I'm just not sure if I want this yet. But you know what, let me think it over.”
I mastered the art of this tactic when shopping in open markets abroad that don't have prices listed. I even went as far as negotiating to my limit and walking away. I each case the shop keeper would come after me and agree to my final price.
8. When you think someone wants to say no but is afraid of hurting your feelings, reverse psychology can be the perfect way to get what you want.
For example: “You don't have to help me with this project. It's okay if you're too busy. I'll figure it out somehow.”
9. Use big words and confusing sentences so they will feel like they know more than you and can therefore make the decision.
Reverse psychology works because your partner thinks they are teaching you something or helping you. For example: “I don't quite understand what you're trying to say. Could you show me what you mean?”.
Final Thoughts about How to Use Reverse Psychology
Reverse psychology is a great way to encourage someone you love (or don't like) to do what you want without being obvious. However, this tactic does have its cons and can cause problems in the relationship if it's used too often or in the wrong situation. It's important to be careful about how often you use this tactic and make sure that both people are on the same page.
When someone is stubborn and they know what you want them to do, this tactic can help get them there without making them feel like they're being manipulated. While we learned a great deal about reverse psychology, we also learned it may not always be the right way to go. So, if you want to flip the script and become more direct, look at 9 Assertive Behavior Examples to Help You Succeed in Life.
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.
what it is and how it is used
- What is reverse psychology
- Reverse psychology as a manipulative technique
- When and for whom reverse psychology works and does not work
- How to Use Reverse Psychology
- How not to fall for the tricks of reverse psychology
Practically everyone has come across such a phenomenon as reverse psychology in everyday life. Corresponding examples can often be found in the field of business, trade, in particular, in advertising, sales, etc. In this incarnation, this phenomenon of our psyche is used mainly as a manipulative technique. We will talk in more detail about the features of reverse psychology, how you can use it and how not to succumb to manipulation if someone uses such psychology on you. nine0017
What is reverse psychology
Vivid examples of reverse psychology have been before our eyes since childhood: in one fairy tale Brer Rabbit really “didn't want” Brer Fox to throw him into a thorn bush, and for a long time tried to persuade him not to do it; in another, a naughty boy was forced to help with the housework, forbidding him to do what needed to be done. And there are many such stories. So, reverse psychology , or reverse psychology , or reverse psychology , -
is a phenomenon in which a person, prompted to one action, acts in the opposite direction.
Sometimes it turns out unconsciously : you advise something, ask or order, and your interlocutor perceives everything in his own way and acts differently. But neither you nor he planned to resort to reverse psychology for your own purposes - it happened spontaneously. However, sometimes it is used deliberately to force someone to act in a certain way. nine0017
For example, this technique is used in psychology, psychotherapy or psychiatry . For example, in films and books there are examples when a person is dissuaded from suicide by persistently suggesting that he jump off the roof or put his head in the oven. At the same time, however, it is believed that in life such a technique is not used as often as works of art say. Also, reverse psychology is used in everyday life, in everyday life - as a manipulative technique , the task of which is to push the interlocutor to make the "necessary" decision. We propose to analyze this aspect in more detail. nine0017
Reverse psychology as a manipulative technique
The action of reverse psychology as a manipulative technique is based on two main components. Firstly, formally leaves the one to whom it is directed the freedom of choice . The person, as it were, makes the decision himself [to act as the manipulator needs]. This helps to hide the very fact of manipulation, as well as to avoid rejection by the “recipient” from the fact that someone else’s opinion is being imposed on him.
Second, formally human is pushed to the opposite decision , and in certain situations this is a great incentive to do what they are supposedly asked not to do (or not to do what they are supposedly asked to do).
One of the classic examples is sales assistants who say things like, “This item is too expensive, you can't afford it. Let's look at cheaper options. The calculation is that the buyer’s hurt pride will make him answer: “No, show an expensive product” - and purchase it in order to prove his solvency (in his own eyes, in the eyes of the seller, other buyers, etc.). nine0017
But of course, in order for reverse psychology as a manipulative technique to work, it must be used in the right situations and on the “right” people.
When and for whom reverse psychology works and does not work
Reverse psychology is to some extent situational - it is of great importance who, when and to whom speaks. It works best on rebels who do not accept parting words (most often from any specific people in their environment). Such individuals do the opposite almost out of principle (sometimes partially on a subconscious level). This can often be seen in parent-child relationships, especially when it comes to teenagers. They may listen to the advice of friends, but if their parents say the same, they will do exactly the opposite. nine0017
This technique also in most cases works well for those who are very important to do everything their own way, who are disgusted by imposed actions . In addition, reverse psychology is often "turned on" when someone tries to hurt our pride, self-esteem, wants to hit your weak points , etc. It is on this that the example mentioned above with consultants is based, who, as it were, casually hint that a potential buyer will not be able to purchase everything. nine0017
On the other hand, if a person does not see problems (from a psychological point of view) that this or that thing is unaffordable for him financially, then using this technique will be at least useless, if not harmful, and will be able to discourage future purchases in this store. Also, reverse psychology, most likely, will not work on those who are used to following advice, meekly obeying authorities (including those from their environment: parents, leaders, soulmate, etc.), adopt other people's points of view, passing them off as their own on a conscious or subconscious level. If you try to apply this technique on such individuals, with a high degree of probability they will simply perceive your words as direct instructions for action and do exactly as you say, and not vice versa.
As for situations, reverse psychology manifests itself most clearly when the one to whom it is directed is in the grip of emotions . These can be disputes or a reaction to a provocation (as in the same example with sellers). In the case of Brother Fox from a well-known fairy tale, this is the ecstasy of victory. Other strong emotions are also suitable, which allow you to push logical and critical perception into the background. nine0017
How to use reverse psychology
If you decide to use this technique, remember that it can be very effective, but only if you apply it correctly.
1. When to use
It is important in the first place that the use of reverse psychology go unnoticed . Perhaps this is the most important principle. If your manipulation fails but is not detected, you can always try something else. If you are “revealed”, it will be much more difficult to proceed further, and there is a chance that trust in you and your words will, in principle, be significantly reduced. Therefore experiment very carefully at first .
It is also important not to overdo it with this technique. Otherwise, it will simply stop working for those you apply it to too often (but there are exceptions).
2. On whom to apply
Decide in advance, on which of your environment reverse psychology is more likely to work, and on whom it is not even worth trying . Think about the situations in which this technique would be appropriate and how often such situations arise. For example, a good candidate would be a teenager with whom you need to interact in one way or another, but with whom you often argue (that is, for your relationship, situations are frequent when emotions overwhelm him, and therefore critical perception fades into the background). nine0017
Or maybe your soulmate is very sensitive to some topics? Then, if possible, you can poke him / her a little (to get emotions stirred up), and then try using reverse psychology.
At the same time, we once again remind you of the importance of the first point and that you need to act carefully - otherwise you can only aggravate the situation and spoil the relationship.
There are options when reverse psychology presses on emotions, but not in the heat of a quarrel. For example, you can say: “Darling, I am not at all offended that you still have not hung a picture. Don't worry, I'll hang it myself later." The main condition is that in your words there should not even be a hint of sarcasm or causticity (and this phrase should be used out of place). Just indicate the intention: you remove this task from your husband and take it upon yourself. There is a great chance that in this way you will both remind about the picture and offer a solution on how to proceed. nine0017
Of course, someone will be glad that they can cross a painting off their to-do list. Others will begin to gnaw at the advice, and they will “decide” that it really is time to take on and tell this picture themselves. If your spouse belongs to the second category, then it makes sense for you to use reverse psychology. If we are talking about a person of the first type, then after such words you will definitely have to deal with the picture itself.
3. How to use
The first attempts to use reverse psychology in everyday life should show you how well you can do it, whether you have correctly identified the people and situations when it can work. nine0017
In the future, with practice, you will be able to correct existing shortcomings or distortions, if any, hone your skills . However, we repeat that it is worth using this technique from case to case, when you understand that it is more effective than other methods of persuasion, primarily non-manipulative ones.
It is known that manipulators (in this case we are talking about those who manipulate on a conscious level) represent a certain type of personality. If you think that you have too few features of this type, it also means that you will not be able to use manipulative techniques. Perhaps you just need to work on yourself, including learning to better calculate the reaction of other people to your words, read their emotions. Our tips for developing emotional and social intelligence can help with this. These skills will be useful not only for using the techniques of reverse psychology and will definitely not be superfluous. nine0017
How not to fall for the tricks of reverse psychology
The main advice on how to resist reverse psychology yourself is simple and complex at the same time. It is very important to control emotions and be able to stop if you feel that you are making decisions based on them, which should have been made on the basis of a logical assessment of the situation, a critical approach, etc. Developing social and emotional intelligence can also help with this.
So, if you feel like you're being 'taken for a show', if your decisions are too obviously designed to go against someone else's words, etc., stop for a moment. Do not make a final decision and do not begin to act, being in the grip of strong emotions. Cool down first, and then weigh everything again and calculate.
The most important (and most difficult) thing here is to understand when to take a time out and come to your senses, distance yourself from other people's opinions. All the same seething feelings that drown out logic and the voice of reason and make us
act thoughtlessly. However, the ability to control emotions is necessary for a person in many situations, and not only in order to resist reverse psychology. Thus, take the time and effort to develop this “skill” if this problem is relevant to you.
And one more note: if you decide that this method is being used on you, do not rush to immediately accuse the person of manipulation. As we said, sometimes such processes occur completely unconsciously, and on both sides. But it’s also not worth losing sight of such cases at all - With both conscious and unconscious manipulators, it is best to be careful until they load you with their problems and shift their tasks too much. If this still happened, perhaps our tips on how to refuse people will come in handy.
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Reverse psychology: how does it work?
You must have done this many times, and you didn't even suspect that you were doing exactly that - reverse psychology. This phenomenon has a simple principle of operation. You want someone to do something, but are absolutely sure of refusal, even after a polite request. So you're asking the person to do the exact opposite of what you want. For example, you unsuccessfully ask your husband to paint the bedroom. But as soon as you tell him: "Don't worry, I'll paint it myself - anyway, I can paint walls better than you," rest assured, your husband will immediately pick up a brush. nine0017
"Reverse psychology often works because each person needs independence," says Dr. Jeanette Raymond, a licensed psychologist, psychotherapist, and relationship expert in Los Angeles. “It’s much more uplifting to feel that you did something of your own accord, and not because someone forced you, forced, shamed or threatened to end the relationship.”
In psychotherapy, reverse psychology is called "paradoxical intervention" (the term "reverse psychology" appeared under the influence of the media). In a paradoxical intervention, the therapist tells the client to behave in exactly the way the client most wants. For example, if a client wants to overcome procrastination, the therapist suggests that the client procrastinate for one hour a day. The point is that this will help the client focus on the behavior and its possible consequences and allow him to see that the behavior is voluntary and therefore controllable. nine0017
There are some doubts about the ethics of a paradoxical intervention performed by a professional. Sometimes the patient's problem may be one of fear or pain, in which case asking the patient to intentionally create that state does not seem to be acceptable.
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Who does reverse psychology work for?
Reverse psychology, or paradoxical intervention, is a relatively new concept in psychotherapy, but it has folk origins. For example, it is believed that parents should not warn their child against marriage with an unsuccessful passion, otherwise the wedding will certainly take place. But does it work for everyone and in every situation? nine0017
Experts are sure that reverse psychology is more likely to work for those who do not like to be controlled - teenagers. rebels, daffodils, for example. Most passive people will happily do what you ask, so there is no need for reverse psychology for them. It will also work better for those who often make emotional decisions rather than calmly consider their moves.
Reverse psychology is more likely to work for those who do not like to be controlled
Janet Raymond argues that the effectiveness of this method depends less on personality type than on relationship dynamics. “Where a person is fighting for his independence and individuality, a paradoxical intervention can work, because a person seeks to do what you forbid him.”
She mentions Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, as an example. “The more he was called to stop and the more threats he received from powerful countries like the United States, the more he ignored them and the sooner he acquired the aura of a martyr,” says the psychotherapist. “If he had been told that his work is cool and demanded to continue in the same spirit, he probably would not have stuck his line so hard.” nine0017
Fortunately, it is not often that we are faced with the task of using reverse psychology to stop the spread of top-secret government information. Most of us use this method for much more peaceful purposes—towards our children and our partner, and to achieve business goals, which you will learn about later.
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Reverse psychology and children
When all else fails, parents often use reverse psychology techniques with their children. nine0017
Anyone who has children must have often experienced this method with them. Children very often do the exact opposite of what their parents want them to do. And like many of us, they don't like being told what to do.
In one experiment, 2-year-olds were forbidden to play with a certain toy. And now they suddenly really needed to play with her. Older children were asked to choose any picture out of five - but immediately after that they were told that one of them could not be chosen. And what is the result? The forbidden picture was urgently needed by everyone. Other studies also showed that special warning signs made the item very appealing to children, such as those that appear on screen during a violent TV show. nine0017
So what's the point? Parents can use reverse psychology to keep their children's natural desire for independence from getting in the way of their rational desires. But parents should do it responsibly and selectively. If you use reverse psychology too often, it will become habitual and stop working. Your children will perceive you as a manipulator, which, of course, is not very good.
In addition, never use "negative" reverse psychology, which can harm the child's personality. For example, never tell your child that you will hide his bike, because he cannot get into the garage without scratching the cars nearby. Choose positive and harmless forms of influence. For example, your daughter does not want to have dinner. Say that this is fine, but when dinner time is over, it will be time to sleep and she simply will not have time to eat. nine0017
Adolescents work well when you let them make their own choices. For example, if your 16-year-old wants to go to some suspicious activity, tell him or her that you can't force him or her to stay at home, even if you think it might be dangerous. So you will have to decide for yourself how it will be smarter to act. Thus, you will successfully resign, and in the end, the child may even listen to your advice.
“The paradoxical intervention does not give permission to the child to do what he wants, not his parent,” says Raymond. “You just inspire a child to do wrong, and in the end it just becomes not interesting to him.” nine0017
Some psychologists oppose the use of reverse methods in all circumstances. Dr. Vicki Panaccione, a child clinical psychologist, says that if you praise your child for doing something you didn't ask for - for example, you told your son to keep growing long hair, and he responded short haircut - you teach him not to obey you. The child will also understand that your words are not always true.
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Using Reverse Psychology in Relationships and Business
Sometimes in a relationship, partners shy away from talking frankly on certain topics and not talking about their feelings and emotions. If you understand that this is happening in your couple, you can try to apply reverse psychology. Maybe your significant other is telling you that they want to take time out because you're too meticulous. Cheerfully let him know that you just realized that you probably put too much on him. And leave it alone for a while. Most likely, he will dramatically change his mind and your relationship will continue. nine0017
Or perhaps you are discussing whether or not to have children with your wife. You are firmly convinced that she wants children right now, but says that it would be wiser to wait a bit. You say, "Okay, let's wait a couple of years." Be prepared for what she suddenly says - let's not wait, let's go right now.
In the case of business, reverse psychology is most effective in sales. Don't use this technique to get people to buy what they don't need. But using it with buyers who are interested in your products is completely justified. nine0017
There are several ways to use the reverse approach in sales. The first is "client disqualification". In this scenario, you're telling a customer that they can't afford or don't really need a particular product, expecting the customer to want that product even more.
For example, you are helping a couple find a car. You show them all the cars in the showroom except for the two expensive cars in the corner. They will ask you why they weren't shown these cars. You tell them that these cars are too expensive and it seems to you that, most likely, the couple will not be able to afford them. Buyers insist on watching and end up buying one to prove you wrong.