Reverse psychology (A Comprehensive Guide)

We implement the concept of reverse psychology more commonly in our daily life than we usually notice about it, and it is quite funny because we do it unintentionally without even realizing. It happens most often that when we want something to happen we often do the quite opposite of it so we can get the desired result we want. There are some moments that you do not even realize let us take an example, for instance, there is a time when there is a chance that you are gonna lose your job and you have been upset and mentally disturb over this and you had the desire and utmost need to not lose that job that you forget that there is a better chance you are happier without that job than you are with it. It is quite confusing at times, yes but it is also true. Most people are not even aware of the lengths they go for to make things happen and mostly do not realize even later. Some of the people might even put up the argument that self-fulfilling prophecies are the main reason here, there is a chance that they might be as reverse psychology is also a tricky form a self-fulfilling prophecy that usually leaves us astonished and dumbfounded after we get what we originally wanted.  There are basically four steps that can be used to utilize reverse psychology in our daily life with our knowledge, but before we move towards that topic let’s first see why to reverse psychology is important and how it can be understood more in detail. 

Reverse Psychology and its Importance

Like other forms of communication, reverse psychology is only effective in the way it is utilized. In a way, while doing reverse psychology if you are too obvious, this will end up in losing the opportunity to influence another person who otherwise would have responded well to your direct requests. Reverse psychology, like all forms of communication, can only be as effective as it is utilized. Also, it is better to always check with yourself before using any form of reverse psychology because, in simple terms, it can be said that using reverse psychology is the same as you manipulating the other person. The end result that you are aiming at using reverse psychology might be harmless but you cannot put down the fact that it is still manipulation, whether it is for making your spouse visit someplace with you or making some plans for a movie night or you are are looking at a new job position utilizing reverse psychology can give you benefits and is very effective in different scenarios. In the same sense if used inappropriately or in a wrong way the situation can become awkward once the person you are talking with realizes it that you are manipulating them. 

If caught while trying reverse psychology, the situation shifts quickly to an awkward phase, that is why it is of utmost importance to keep in mind about your ultimate goal and to quickly assess the situation rather than using reverse psychology, asking about it directly might also give you a better result. It is also like a double edge sword making you feel guilty too of the fact that you have obtained your goal by manipulating the other person that is why in general reverse psychology does not bear a good reputation among professionals. It requires a maturity level that can handle the resultant consequences of the situation and the understanding of what steps can be taken to reach the goal and what the individual wants. Sometimes, we are aiming for certain things in life and go to any lengths to obtain it but there are a number of questions along the way like have we done anything to hurt others? Are we proud of the way we obtained it? Many among us might have achieved the things we wanted and still, we do not want to admit that it is because of reverse psychology, and the bad taste in our mouth at the end of the sense of guild is also the result of it. 

Compliant vs. Resistant People

One of the first and most essential things you will notice at once when you start using reverse psychology is that this does not work on everyone. In general, people can be divided into two types: resistant and compliant ones. Resistant are the ones that are more jaded or biased and are looking at the white and black of things whereas the complaints are the ones that only follow directions and do not think about things much. The first step in using reverse psychology is to check the personality of the person you are going to use it at, also keeping in mind that even if you focus reverse psychology on a person, he still has a free will and might not follow the direction in which you want to lead them into and might decide into going towards another way. There is also no guarantee that if a person has previously leaned into reverse psychology he will again lean into it in the future and never count on it. As with time people tend to learn so you might also learn with time that there might be some people who were compliant before but now have become resistant to manipulation and can change directions according to their own free will.

Steps to using reverse psychology

There might be times when you feel like you have been manipulated into doing something that you might not do on your own free will or a friend of yours has convinced you onto something or in doing something that you have previously denied or refused to do. There might be times when your mother has manipulated you in cleaning your room although you might have sworn before not to do such a thing or make you do some errand which you have refused beforehand. This is all because of the power of reverse psychology and is the examples of our daily life, technically speaking reverse psychology is the process that is used by different people to convince other individuals to do something that they usually will not or will refuse to do. As you can see it is a form of manipulation, hence not all types of reverse psychology can be taken as positive. A lot of people utilize the process of reverse psychology to manipulate other individuals in doing some other things or activities for them which can end up destroying families or ruining relationships and friendships. Some of the steps that can be taken to master the process of reverse psychology are explained below.

Step one

The first step is to plant the seed which will later grow into a positive influence on the direction or decision you want them to take, so if you want someone to agree with you or convince them on doing something the first step is to plant the seed of choice like offering them multiple options related to what you will like them to do so not doing anything is technically not considered as an option by them. For example, let’s say you want to convince your partner to go on a cruise holiday in summer but he wants to visit his hometown and parents. So for starters, you can start with planting the seed by discussing all the options and fun things that are available on the cruise and that can be down over the sea. You can divert their mind by discussing multiple things and activities that can be done while you are visiting your partner’s parents and then in between drop the idea related to cruise as in a future tense. It is always good to use future tense as that will stick in the other person’s mind for some time when applying reverse psychology. 

Step two

You need to revisit the idea you want them to follow multiple times but casually. Ask them about their opinions and get a feel about the option you have floated before them. Tell your partner about some friends that have gone on a cruise and how well it went for them and if possible show some pictures of them having a great time. Always put ideas in a future tense like how you can not wait to go on a cruise. Also, in between drop some hints about how cheap it is and how the money for the whole trip is not more or even less than it is going to take to visit your partner’s parents as a comparison while giving your idea an upper hand.

Step three

Once you have made the foundations now start giving them the choices in the real-time. Ask your partner if possible would they like to go on a cruise and spend some quality time together rather and have some fun. At this step, you will put some thoughts in opposing the idea and might say that this might not be the best thing to put your money at and it will be the time when your partner might suddenly come up with things to support the idea. Your partner will start comparing both things and if you put in more emphasis on the idea of visiting your partner’s parents then they will start to rethink it more and might reconsider an alternate option.

Step four

After some thought if your partner says that let us take the cruise, do not at once agree to it but keep pushing for visiting their parents, this will further solidify the foundation of the cruise in your partner’s mind and you will not look like a bad guy in the whole scenario. In the end, the whole thing will look like your partner’s idea and they are more into it than you yourself are, might even bring up some arguments to back up the idea. The duration it takes for you to complete the whole process may vary depending on the kind of person you are dealing with but if you keep at it and be cautious while using it you can always get ahead of others in the process.

FAQ about reverse Psychology 

What is a reverse psychology example?

The most common example of reverse psychology is to forbid a person from doing something which also plants the idea in the mind of that person to do that specific thing. If they go towards the idea of doing that specific thing then by expressing more doubts related to it you can further solidify the idea in their mind.

How do you use reverse psychology?

Reverse psychology is a way that can be used to motivate the other person to do something or convince them to take some initiative by telling them the exact opposite of it. For instance, telling your friend that he might not be able to arrive before six will end up inspiring him to be there before 6 just to prove that you are wrong.


 Lachlan Brown (n.d.): “The truth about reverse psychology and 4 steps to mastering it”