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Reverse Psychology

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reverse psychology
reverse psychology

Reverse Psychology

What is reverse psychology? Simply put, reverse psychology is getting someone to do something by telling them not to do it or vice versa – tell them to do it when you don’t want them to. It is the process of implying the opposite of what one actually desires in the hope that the desired outcome will be achieved. The expectation is that the target will have a negative reaction to the suggestion and therefore opt to do the opposite. Children respond well to reverse psychology as they strive for independence and often want to do the opposite of what their parents suggest purely out of principle.

Reverse psychology is not the healthiest way to communicate as it involves manipulation and less than transparent motives. It is best to only use this method of communicating when you are sure that the target will not be aware of what you are doing and will most likely respond favourably. Reverse psychology works best on people who are naturally resistant because agreeable people are more likely to go along with what you want.

When we are told not to do something, it stirs the two year old in us…why can’t I? It makes us want to even if we didn’t plan to initially. Research has shown that warnings on DVD’s for certain age groups not to watch the DVD only tend to encourage the excluded group to want to watch the banned movie.

The clever aspect to reverse psychology is that when it is used correctly, you can get someone to do what you want whilst still allowing them the illusion that they chose what they wanted. No one likes being told what to do and most people are more likely to do the opposite of what we are coerced into doing.

Reverse psychology has its uses, especially with children, but it is best to only resort to it when all other options have failed.

Mandy X


Mandy Kloppers
Author: Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a qualified therapist who treats depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, trauma, and many other types of mental health issues. She provides online therapy around the world for those needing support and also provides relationship counselling.