Reverse Psychology Techniques

Updated July 20, 2017

Reverse psychology is a manipulation tool used to make people change their minds about something. It's based on the concept of reactance, in which people react negatively to being persuaded and end up thinking in the opposite direction. To use reverse psychology, express the opposite of your actual feelings as if it's true. This makes a person veer in the opposite direction, unknowingly agreeing with you. Reverse psychology works best on children or people with "Type A" personalities. However, using reverse psychology can easily hurt a person's feelings.

Act Uninterested

This technique is perhaps best known as a strategy in buying used cars. If you want something from someone and it shows, he's more likely to withhold it from you to see how far you'll go to get it. Act like you don't want it and he'll give it to you for less in exchange.

Be Exclusive

If you want someone's time, money or attention, make her believe you don't. Make her think you're turning to someone else for help instead. She'll be more likely to push advice or help onto you if she thinks she's doing so without your permission or asking.

Invoke Jealousy

This works best if you're pursuing a person who may have rejected you or a position you didn't get. The adage that we all want what we can't have is true, so act on it by making him jealous with another person or job. If he sees you out having fun with somebody else or succeeding doing something else, he'll be more likely to want you.

Repeat Things Back

When someone explains her thoughts and you know she's wrong, repeat her words back to her in a different tone. Say it in a higher pitch, slower and with your eyebrows raised, as though you're asking a question. You'll make her opinion sound foolish, and she may second-guess herself.

Be Unavailable

If you want people to value your attention more, make them work harder for it. Wait for others to call you. Make plans sparingly. Give people time to miss you. If your presence is scarce, it's more desirable.

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About the Author

Camille Beredjick is a recent graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University working in the nonprofit sector. She is the sole writer and manager of GayWrites, an LGBT news blog.