What is Reverse Psychology and How Does it Work?

What is Reverse Psychology and How Does it Work?

Reverse psychology is part of a phenomenon of psychology called “reactance”. The concept of reactance is that human beings are extremely possessive of their freedom, and when they feel that this freedom is being taken away, they will react to protect it, usually in an opposing manner. They may feel angry or defensive about the situation, and try to reverse it. Reverse psychology is a strategy of getting what you want by suggesting the opposite. The scientific term for it is self-anticonformity, since it is exactly opposite of what you want.

Is Reverse Psychology used for Mental Health Issues?


Despite the fact that reverse psychology contains the word ‘psychology’, it is not a technique used by therapists or mental health specialists because therapists don’t enforce their wishes on their patients.

Reverse psychology is often used by parents on their children, or in relationships, and is also known to be a great marketing tool. For example, a salesperson may be trying to sell you an iron. He may let you know dozens of features the iron has but end the pitch with such a high price that you won’t want to purchase it. Then he will introduce you to another iron with similar qualities but lesser price. You will end up buying the cheaper one because it seems like a better value. However, the salesperson was intending to sell the cheaper iron all along, but you were made to feel the satisfaction of having made up your own mind by not purchasing the overly expensive one.

Does Reverse Psychology work on Everyone?


People who are irritable, emotional and strong headed are more prone to reactance and fall victim to reverse psychology. And people who are less opinionated and compliant are less likely to fall for it. There’s also some evidence to suggest that men are more prone to reverse psychology than women. When using reverse psychology, it is important to recognize the kind of person you are dealing with, and the nature of the transaction.

The Takeaway:


Reverse psychology is a strategy to manipulate decision making by having the other person think that he/she is incharge of the decision, although he/she may have been led down that decision path. It doesn’t have any direct affect on mental health, and it’s effectiveness is very subjective thus dependent on the persons involved and the situation.
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Dr. Jawad is a practicing physician with extensive administrative experience, who has firsthand knowledge of running a medical practice and working in employed models. WoW Health aligns incentives for the healthcare ecosystem so all stakeholders benefit from transparent and direct relationship between patients and medical service providers.