Archive for March 9th, 2015

March 9, 2015

Reverse Psychology

briar patch

Reverse psychology is a technique involving the advocacy of a belief or behavior that is opposite to the one desired, with the expectation that this approach will encourage the subject of the persuasion to do what actually is desired: the opposite of what is suggested. This technique relies on the psychological phenomenon of reactance, in which a person has a negative emotional reaction to being persuaded, and thus chooses the option which is being advocated against. The one being manipulated is usually unaware of what is really going on.

Reverse psychology is often used on children due to their high tendency to respond with reactance, a desire to restore threatened freedom of action (e.g. telling children to stay in the house when you really want them to choose to go outside and play).¬†Questions have however been raised about such an approach when it is more than merely instrumental, in the sense that ‘reverse psychology implies a clever manipulation of the misbehaving child’ and nothing more. With respect to ’emotional intelligence,’ the advice has been given: ‘don’t try to use reverse psychology….such strategies are confusing, manipulative, dishonest, and they rarely work’. In addition, consistently allowing a child to do the opposite of what he/she is being advised, undermines the authority of the parent.

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