Reverse Psychology: Is it Manipulative or Not!

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It’s a common tactic for parents to manipulate their children to do the right thing. You may have heard your mother challenged you to eat something you don’t like. And hearing her, you finish it to show that you actually can. So what do you think this technique is called? Well, in the language of psychology, it is known as reverse psychology.

To be exact, reverse psychology refers to a manipulative technique where you make people do things instigating them to do the opposite.

So, here you go! When a mother challenges her child, saying, are you sure you can eat all of those broccolis? It is nothing, but she is playing with his or her mind. By saying this, she is enabling her children’s desire to finish all the broccolis.

The use of reverse psychology is wide and can be observed in various situations. So, why not try to get a clear understanding of the concept. In this article, we will discuss reverse psychology for you. So better stay tuned!

Last update on 2021-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Reverse Psychology: How it works?

According to Brehm’s reactance theory, in short, when people are pressured to act in a particular way, they usually go for the opposite.

From the concept, it is easily understandable that it works mostly on people who disagree when they are told to do things or give orders. We all know people who seem to take a different stance when they are asked to act a certain way or put under a command.

Again, if you make a statement to a person that he or she cannot do that in any way, they will become active in proving to you that they are competent enough to accomplish the task.

Although the tactics sound tricky or deceptive, it is effective for many people, especially on children suggested by many who practice this technique. Reverse psychology is also known as “paradoxical” sometimes.

Some Examples of Reverse Psychology on everyday life

  1. In Parenting

This is one of the most common areas and can be seen in many parts of parenting. There is no doubt the children are most stubborn. They would be reluctant to tidy the room, eat vegetables, and mostly act opposite of what their parents ask for. The parents may go crazy sometimes. So this is when reverse technology could come into action.

For example, if your child is reluctant to solve a math problem and forcefully asks them to do it, they would show reactance, which means they may not react positively. However, if you challenge them by saying, I bet you cannot finish it, they will eagerly try to solve it for you.

  1. In Teaching

The school or the teachers with whom the children spent a lot of their time. So it becomes a responsibility for a teacher or a mentor to guide his or her student correctly, just like a parent does, which is when reverse psychology is used.

If, for example, as a teacher, you want your student to finish a difficult reading task, the commanding type of words may not work for them. Instead, you tell them it is difficult to finish and make it feel challenging for them. Your student may end up reading the book to prove that they are competent enough to finish the book.

  1. In Sales

Reverse psychology is observed vastly in sales or marketing. You do understand the selling needs technique where you need to manipulate people to think that your product does the best. So it is crucial in sales and marketing.

One of the renowned techniques is the “Door in the face technique.” In this technique, the salesperson would make an outrageous pitch and create compelling pressure on the buyer. However, they would then offer something suitable and within a budget instead of the previous extreme ones. This way, you could compel consumers to buy by putting them in a situation.

  1. In Relationships

The tactics of reverse psychology may work on what you want from your partner. However, overdoing it or doing it wrong could harm your partner’s trust, thus affecting your relationship.

Furthermore, it proves to be more negative than positive in a relationship because the technique mostly ends up looking manipulative or deceiving. If you challenge your partner to do a chore, they may take it to prove himself/ herself to you.

For example, if you say that you doubt that he could prepare a meal for you, then he may take the challenge and try hard and soul to prepare a meal. Remember, it is positive sometimes, but overdoing it could be backfiring.

Some useful Books on Reverse psychology you may enjoy

  1. Reverse Psychology, by Charles Ludlam
  2. Reverse Psychology: The Dirty little secrets that you wish you knew by Katherine Shepard
  3. Reverse Psychology Marketing, by Dr. Indrajit Sinha (Author), Dr. Thomas Foscht
  4. Reverse Psychology – Whatever You Do, Don’t Read This Book, by Tom Medwin Jr.
  5. Applying Reverse Psychology ‑ Enhance Your Sex Appeal and Social, Book by Stefan Amber Cain.

Reverse Psychology: Does this Work?

Well, there are debates on the topic of whether it actually works or not. Some studies prove to be effective in accomplishing goals, whereas some studies find it to be futile most of the time.

It works in many cases and may not work with others because of the different factors or scenarios.

Reverse Psychology: How to Use it?

Using the technique of reverse psychology is pretty straightforward. The crucial thing that plays here is the demand you make to a person to act a certain way to make them do the opposite. This way, you can fulfill what you wanted the person to do.

Nevertheless, it would help if you considered some facts to make it a better experience. They are,

  • Make arguments on the option that you want the person to do.
  • To backup, make nonverbal cues.
  • Make sure you are clear with your instructions.
  • Could you not make it look fake or forceful?

Some Drawbacks of Reverse Psychology

  • Overdoing it may affect your relationship.
  • Using it too often could also impact other people’s trust in you.
  • Using it in an important decision could hinder the person from voicing his or her opinion.

People who can use Reverse Psychology

Reverse psychology is used in every specter of life. You see it everywhere. Make sure it is not overdone or intend a negative stance. Some common areas where we can use them are:

  • Parents can influence their children by using it.
  • In a relationship, it can be used but not too often or to deceit.
  • It can be used in marketing strategies.
  • It can be used to coach a team in games and sports.
  • It can be used on students by their teacher in a healthy way.

Final thoughts

Reverse psychology is used to bring or make a certain task work positively by manipulating the other person. However, it is not negative manipulation. And to keep it free from the negativity, we have to make sure that it is not being used too often or forcefully.

While implementing the technique, we have to understand the scenario. We have to make sure if it is the right way and also having a positive vibe on the other person. They are used everywhere and claimed to be effective by many scholars and practitioners.

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