This method is called Reverse Psychology and surely you have use it or heard about it. Reverse psychology is a technique by which someone is determined to adopt a certain behavior, suggesting them to behave in exactly the opposite manner. This technique is based on psychological resistance in which a person required to behave in a certain way will experience a restriction on his freedom and will act in the opposite manner.The method works because nobody likes to be told what to do, and acting in the reverse manner restores our sense of freedom.
Children often stubbornly refuse to comply with parental requirements. This psychological method is sometimes used by parents to make children to achieve the required behavior. For example, a child may refuse to play outside with other children resisting all arguments. But if he is imperatively required to stay in the house, it is possible to obtain the desired behavior.
Using reverse psychology in educating the child (although sometimes useful) is not recommended because:
- requesting for contradictory behaviour from children by their parents can lead to undermining parental authority on the long-term.
- this technique is based on manipulation, so is dishonest.
- in some cases reverse psychology has opposite desired effects. Let’s presume that we ask a child that should not consume ice cream to eat ice cream: the child will probably follow the parental advice and will become ill.
If you still want to use reverse psychology to educate children, you have to be careful not to hurt their self-esteem. For example, if your kid is stubborn enough to not bathe in the evening you can say, “Okay, then it’s time to go to bed.” Perhaps this strategy will work for most children because most children would do anything not to go to bed too early.
It would be wrong to tell: “Very well. It’s your choice but you will smell badly and no child will play with you. “
The idea is to provide alternatives from which he/she can choose, instead of being negative and force him to take the desired behavior.
Reverse psychology can be used also in couple relationships, when one partner has a tendency to behave in a disturbing manner. Here are some examples:
- If you feel that your partner neglects you, rather than pressure him with calls, you can pretend you’re extraordinarily busy. In this way your partner will not feel that he is in the spotlight and might begin to spend more time with you.
- If your marriage proposal delays too much, explain to your partner why you’re not interested in marriage. He/She will be afraid of losing you and will make the desired move.
- If your partner is spending too much time out with friends, tell them to go more often. They will start asking what it means and probably will not be so amateur to leave home.
Reverse psychology is sometimes used by psychotherapists to initiate changes in mental and behavioural attitudes of patients. An anxious patient may be asked by the therapist to deliberately become anxious. Anxiety intensity will decrease through this process and the patient will observe the absurd thoughts that occur in connection with anxiety.
When companies are trying to sell their products, most of them are seeking to become more visible to the public. There is also an inverse marketing method: create a brand about almost nothing is known, except some rumors circulating. Contrary to expectations, such a strategy can be successful because people can feel motivated by the brand’s obscurity and so try to learn more about it.
The funny part of reverse psychology has long been used in movies, television and animation films.
A well-known example is the cartoon Rabbit Fire of Looney Tunes where Daffy Duck tries to convince Elmer that the season for rabbits has opened, and Bugs Bunny that the season for ducks has opened. Daffy shouts “rabbit” and Bugs Bunny shouts “ducks” but at some point Bugs Bunny starts to shout “rabbits”. The result is that Daffy now shouts “ducks” exactly as Bugs Bunny wanted.