How to Use Reverse Psychology

Updated July 12, 2018
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Reverse psychology is defined as telling a person something that is the opposite of what you want him to do or believe. German psychologists Adorno and Horkheimer theorized that people respond in an opposite or reverse direction of what they are told, and this theory has been tested and proved since the idea's debut in the late 1970s.

Understand that reverse psychology in dating can work to a big advantage. If he is playing hard to get and just wants to be friends, you can say that you agree and just want to be friends as well. Say that you think this is actually better for the two of you and that it is what you want as well. Guys, does she say that she is not ready to spend the night with you? Come back with reverse psychology and tell her that you agree and think waiting is best.

Keep in mind that parents are probably some of the biggest fans of reverse psychology. Many incorporate techniques into their parenting style and don't even realize it. Reverse psychology works well with children because many just want to do the opposite of what Mom or Dad is telling them. Use reverse psychology techniques sparingly, though. Overuse can lead to self-esteem issues with your children, so choose your words and situations carefully.

Use it at work. At work, reverse psychology can lead to the corner office, salary increases or even a promotion. Salespeople often use reverse psychology techniques to sell a product by making the consumer or client believe they are worse off without it. Establish a strong guarantee and eliminate the risk. Grab attention and let your customers know that you have more to lose than they do through the product or deal. This technique can boost productivity and sales. Trying a new slant never hurts as well.

Use reverse psychology on your parents or family. Teenagers often can use reverse psychology to manipulate parents into weekend parties, shopping trips and extra allowance money.

Whatever reverse psychology technique is used, be sure to practice and make it believable. Having a reputation as a manipulator is not good, but using techniques to help further relationships for the better can be successful.

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  • Practice your reverse psychology statements in the mirror to make them sound convincing.


  • Don't confuse reverse psychology with guilt trips. Telling your husband he shouldn't pick up his dirty clothes can come across as guilting into action. The trick is to have the person believe that this is the outcome you want.

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