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Reverse Psychology Backfire
Andy: I think it's wonderful that you want to spend more time with your family even though it means letting 25 years of experience and hard work in the corporate world go to waste while we eat up our savings. I'm behind you 100 percent.
Roger: Thanks, sweetie. Now I know it was the right decision.
Andy: (thinking) Boy, when reverse psychology backfires, it really backfires.
A character tries Reverse Psychology
on another. Unfortunately, the subject is either smart enough to see through the laughably blunt ruse, or Too Dumb to Fool
. Either way, the subject does just what the would-be psychologist didn't want them to do - and on their own request too.
(Please do not use this for examples where Reverse Psychology
only simply does not work. Or rather, do use it for them. Or... Oh, forget it.)
- In a police drama, a father tries to keep her daughter from entering the police force by telling her that she should, thinking that it is just a phase for her and she just says she wants to be one to spite him. She doesn't.
- GLaDOS from Portal tries this a lot. Unfortunately she doesn't know much about the human psyche, and her intentions are very, very transparent.
- In a Calvin And Hobbes strip, Calvin writes to Santa Claus that he really doesn't want any gifts this Christmas, just love and peace among people. Hobbes's opinion of this reverse psychology gambit: "Kind of risky, don't you think?" Calvin throws the letter away.
- Jon once tries to keep Garfield away from the curtains by asking him to sharpen his claws on it. It does not work. Garfield calls it "reverse reverse psychology."
- Andy Fox tries to get Roger to get back to work after he quit his job because Jason busted his chin by acting as though she supports his decision. Unfortunately for her, Roger seemed to think her support was genuine.
- And in another strip, Jason tries this to convince Andy to buy another computer. When it fails, he grumbles that "Reverse psychology must have been invented by a parent." (Well, duh.)
- Another strip had Jason and Peter arguing over which movie to rent. Peter tries to pull the Bugs Bunny "Duck Season, Rabbit Season" trick, and says the name of the movie Jason wants, with the idea that Jason will then reflexively argue for Peter's movie. Instead, Jason simply says, "Oh good, we agree."
- In Discworld's Men at Arms, Vetinari tries to use reverse psychology to get Vimes to work on a politically sensitive case; he does this by absolutely forbidding Vimes from working on it. This almost completely backfires, with Vimes going through a Heroic BSOD and drinking himself to near-death. He would have worked on the case tirelessly without Vetinari's interference, giving Vetinari a shockingly out-of-character Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. To Vetinari's credit, he almost immediately realizes he pushed Vimes too far when Vimes fails to punch the wall on his way out of the office.
- In the Strong Bad Email "stupid stuff", Strong Bad tried to get Homestar to say something intelligent so he could get some grumblecakes from his weekly e-mail sender. After putting him in a lab coat and pursuing him further has failed so far, Strong Bad attempts to ask Homestar a question so stupid, he would respond intelligently. This, however, lead to Homestar getting the grumblecakes instead, when it's revealed that Homestar wanted to get Strong Bad to say something stupid all along.
- Batman The Brave And The Bold, "Sidekicks Assemble" takes this to I Know You Know I Know levels. There's two islands that need to be searched for Ra's al Ghul's base; when Batman states that one is a more likely location and the other is probably a decoy, Robin assumes that Batman's using reverse psychology and decides to check the "decoy" island. After Robin leaves, Batman says that he knew Robin would expect reverse psychology, so he was completely honest about the two islands. Only when they reach the islands Batman finds that his island was the decoy, and Robin ends up finding Ra's' base.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy did a whole episode about this. The Eds try to hit on the Kanker sisters in an effort to keep them at bay. The Kankers counter with "reverse reverse psychology". This is a special case because the reverse psychology was working perfectly, up until the point where the Kankers noticed how nervous Eddy was and catch on to the trick.
- The Simpsons
- In one episode Homer tries using reverse psychology on the toucan that's stolen his map. It doesn't work, and the toucan flies away. "D'oh!"
- He tried the same thing on Bart much earlier in "Saturdays of Thunder" after reading Bill Cosby's Fatherhood.
- Both Bart and Homer try this on each other when Bart doesn't want to go to on a field trip, and Homer doesn't want to take him. Bart tells Homer he wants to go, and Homer tells Bart he'd love to chaperone. Cue a "D'oh!" from both of them.
- In the Goofy short "Fathers are People", Goof is trying to get his son to pick up his toys, and the narrator suggests reverse psychology.
Goofy: Now, Junior, don't you pick up a single, solitary one of those toys.
Junior: All right, I won't.
Goofy: That's a good... Huh?
- In the I Love Lucy episode "Stage Fright", Ethel tries reverse psychology on Little Ricky, who is reluctant to play his drums. After a moment, she comes out of his room.
Lucy: Did it work?
Ethel: Well, sort of. I said, "Little Ricky, you don't want to play those nasty old drums, do you?" and he said, "No."
- In the Get Some In! episode "End of Basic Training", the RAF recruits are being assigned to new posts after their basic training has finished. After seeing his three friends get assigned against their will to a nursing course, Teddy boy Jakey Smith decides to tell the Squadron Leader making the assignments that he really wants to study nursing, assuming that his "request" will also be ignored. To his horror, the Squadron Leader is delighted, as he had Jakey in mind for nursing all along.