The Human Behaviour

Reverse Psychology

What is Reverse Psychology?

Picture this you are sitting on a couch with your mother on a comfortable Sunday afternoon, watching your favorite movie, and she remembers that cake is ready in the oven and that you should get up and take it out. Conversely, you don’t want to leave and say you will in a minute. Your mother gives you a dead look and gets up by saying, “ok, fine, let me by myself.” in the next 15 seconds, you are in the kitchen.

Here, your mother didn’t intend to take the cake out by herself, but it was to create pressure and guilt for you to get up and do the chore as soon as possible. You might have a good idea about reverse psychology so far.

Similarly, you may have often heard this phrase in relationships and friendships: “OK, bye! Don’t text me.” But does that mean to leave? This phenomenon is called reverse psychology. Different techniques are used, including sarcasm, negation, discouragement, etc. 

Reverse psychology is the most widely used of all the dark psychology techniques, yet it is mighty. I will discuss what reverse psychology is. How can you use it in your daily life? When it is constructive and when it’s destructive, along with a few case studies. So stay with me.

Many people use reverse psychology to manipulate circumstances to get what they want.

Simply put, Reverse psychology is when your true intentions are not the same as what you are asking someone to do. As a result, even though you didn’t ask them directly, they act in a way that you would genuinely like them to.

Psychologists refer to reverse psychology as “strategic self-anticonformity” when an individual’s stated request contradicts their genuine desire.

Let me introduce you to another term: reactance. It is a psychological phenomenon characterized by an adverse emotional reaction against someone else’s attempt to influence you.

reverse psychology

 In the introduction, I mentioned your reaction to your mother. You were in the kitchen in the next 15 seconds. Why? Because the intense feeling of guilt and dutifulness was awakened. Similarly, in the second case. Reactance is likely to occur if you are the target of reverse psychology. The problem is that you’re reacting precisely as they want.

Reverse psychology involves manipulation. Nonetheless, the method can often have a positive outcome, mainly when applied to children resistant to learning or complying or to individuals who require assistance altering certain behaviors. For example, your teacher might threaten to call your parents if you don’t score well on upcoming exams.

Daily Life Examples of Reverse Psychology:

Here are a few common examples where dark psychology is applied:

  • In Relationships:

Applying reverse psychology can be risky in a relationship, so it’s best to proceed cautiously.

For instance, even though your partner says they don’t want a birthday present, they do. You buy your partner a gift anyway to surprise them, as that’s what they wanted.

But, if your significant other keeps telling you that they don’t want a gift for every birthday, you may eventually stop purchasing presents, which will disappoint them as they genuinely expect something from you.

Birthdays might then become a source of conflict rather than a reason to celebrate due to the potential miscommunication that could result in resentment and violence.

Similarly, suppose you have a heated argument with your spouse, and they tell you not to contact them again. In that case, they expect you to call them again and resolve issues instead of giving them the silent treatment afterward, which would lead to further complications.

In Parenting:

You could tell a child that they don’t have to get dressed for school in the morning if they refuse to. You could jokingly mention that they’ll be the only student in the classroom dressed in pajamas.

If you use this strategy to convince the child to change out of their pajamas and into regular clothes, they may realize they don’t want to be singled out at school. The child now feels powered to get ready for school.

Similarly, if your child is not scoring good marks and you tell them that they can chill and work at some petrol pump or restaurant afterward and that you will no longer force them to school, there is a clear chance they will start focusing in class.

In Marketing:

Utilizing reverse psychology as a marketing strategy is expected.

A typical illustration would be a ridiculous or extravagant sales pitch offering many alluring features that, given enough money, you might feel obligated to buy.

Instead, you purchase a less critical item from the salesperson, precisely what the salesperson intended if they employ reverse psychology.

If you’re on a tight budget and didn’t plan to buy anything else this month, this reverse psychology has unnecessarily tightened your financial situation.


How Can I Use Reverse Psychology?

As I mentioned earlier, reverse psychology is part of our daily life, but still, here is a list that you can follow to use reverse psychology:


  • Prohibit the intended conduct (e.g., “don’t do that”).
  • Encourage the desired behavior by saying, “You shouldn’t do this.”
  • Remark negatively about the target behavior, such as “Who would want this? It’s so bad.”
  • Make a prediction (e.g., “you probably won’t do that”) that the target individual won’t participate in the target behavior.
  • Ask if the target individual can achieve the desired behavior (e.g., “You probably couldn’t do that well”).
  • Promote the target behavior’s opposite (e.g., “you should do this since it’s so much better than that”).

Reverse psychology can be applied in various contexts, and different strategies will be more effective in certain circumstances. For instance, if you’re trying to persuade someone who is rebellious to do something and you know that they oppose authority figures on principle, your best bet is to prohibit the behavior you want them to engage in. On the other hand, if you feel that this will persuade your target to argue in favor of your original stance, you can express support for the view that is opposite from the one that you genuinely support to get them to agree with you even though you know that they always disagree with everything you say.


Human psychology is becoming more complex to understand with each passing day. Some techniques that were considered magic or cunning tactics are relatively common nowadays. One of them is reverse psychology, a simple but potent approach. All you need to do is stay calm and say or do exactly the opposite of what you want from the other person. And if you think you are under the influence of reverse psychology, start doing what the other person is saying (this will blow their mind, honestly, xD). But, on a serious note, you should practice it with caution as excessive use of it can lead to breakups and impairded relationships.

What is Reverse Psychology? Picture this you are sitting on