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How Reverse Psychology Works

By: Melanie Radzicki McManus  | 

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Author's Note: How Reverse Psychology Works

Researching and writing this article reminded me of my childhood, and the reverse psychology my older (and much-adored) sister would regularly employ on me. Every Saturday, one of us was in charge of cleaning the upper level of our home, while the other girl took the main level. Our mom let us decide who took which floor. The upper level was smaller, so less to clean. I preferred it; so did my sister.

When Saturday rolled around, Sue would say something like, "I really want the downstairs today. I hate cleaning the bathroom [upstairs]." I knew that meant she really wanted the upstairs, as did I, so I would readily agree to the arrangement. But then she would start talking about all of the reasons cleaning the upstairs was a drudge and how she was so glad she had the downstairs today.

Even though I knew exactly what she was doing — employing reverse psychology so I would let her clean the upstairs without a fight — she made cleaning the main level sound so appealing I'd always capitulate. She would grudgingly agree to switch, then laugh at me as she sprinted upstairs to clean the area she really wanted all along. To this day I don't know why I couldn't resist switching when I knew she was using reverse psychology on me.

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More Great Links

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