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Reverse Psychology

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Homer's Brain: Don't you get it!? You gotta use reverse psychology!
Homer: Well, that sounds too complicated.
Homer's Brain: Okay, don't use reverse psychology.
Homer: [angry] All right, I will!
The Simpsons, "Saturdays of Thunder"

Don't read this article.

Fine, don't take our advice.

Alice is told to do/not to do something by Bob and then she does the opposite simply because it is the opposite of what she was told to do/not do. This is what she was expected to do in the first place. Bob used Reverse Psychology to trick her.

Any character who is told not to go in the basement, stay away from the woods, get out now, etc. will do the opposite, thus playing right into the hands of the very person who told them what to do/not do. This trope heavily relies on using the pride, perversity, or curiosity of someone else to manipulate them.

It's useful as the central tool in a Batman Gambit since you need to make your pawns feel like they are making their own decisions. Sometimes this can overlap with Do Not Do This Cool Thing, by making the forbidden attractive just because it is forbidden.


Super-Trope to:

There's a standard sitcom plot where one party (usually the parents) attempts to dissuade or encourage another party (usually the kids) by, naturally, doing the opposite. Often begins with one parent reading a child psychology book and going "Hmmm..."

Usually involves second party figuring it out, and either doing exactly what they're told, or pretending to "fall" for it and being totally obnoxious in the other direction.

It's a Sub-Trope of Batman Gambit. Compare Thought-Aversion Failure (telling someone not to think about something will lead to them thinking about that very thing — involuntarily).

Compare Too Dumb to Live and Genre Blindness. It's worth comparing to Could Say It, But.... Do not, under any circumstances, take this trope to an extreme, as it may approach Mind Screw and I Know You Know I Know.


Compare Motivational Lie. When this doesn't work out, that's Reverse Psychology Backfire.

You could see these examples, but I'm telling you it's a waste of time:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tenchi Muyo! begins this way. Tenchi has repeatedly been warned by his grandfather that he must never, ever, under any circumstances enter the cave behind their ancestral shrine where a demon was supposedly imprisoned. It's later revealed that this was a case of his grandfather being a Trickster Mentor, since he knew full well what Tenchi would do and what the likely result would be. He pretty openly goads Tenchi into opening the shrine, as he tells him that he can have the key as soon as he's able to take it from him through combat or trickery, and eventually Tenchi succeeds.
  • Utawarerumono: "Eruruw is not in that direction. You can't go there." (points straight across a field filled with manure) This is why Aruruw is awesome. (She really isn't in that direction, of course, but the guy asking just called her uncute and is rather rude)
  • In Naruto, Rock Lee decides he's successfully used reverse psychology... on the screen assigning matchups for the preliminary fights for the chunin exams. Desperate for his turn to come up, he claims he doesn't want it to come, and then triumphantly exults that his strategy worked when he gets his turn (forgetting that since it was the second to last round, there's only one other matchup that could have been in that place). Of course, he ends up being matched against Gaara, but that's another matter.
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Mini-Goddess, Skuld has a Big Red Button with a "Do Not Touch" label. Urd and Gan-chan fight over it until she changes the sign to say "Please Touch", at which point they stop. And then Belldandy presses it herself.
  • In episode 7 of InitialD, after being indirectly challenged to race Nakazato and his R32, Takumi at first refuses. His boss, Yuichi, noting him to be as stubborn as the AE 86's driver's father, Bunta, exploits this, telling him that his AE 86 has no chance of beating the R32, and that nobody would call him out on fleeing. Takumi becomes driven (no pun intended) to beat Nakazato, which is what Yuichi wanted from the beginning.
  • In an episode of Pokémon, Ash thinks that Elite 4 trainer Prima is doing this when she seems to ignore his battle challenge. He also thinks it's called perverse psychology.
  • In Yo-Kai Watch, the Yokai Noway forces people to say "no way" to anything. Naturally, this makes any command Nate gives backfire, until he summons Jibanyan, where he decides to command the nekomata not to do anything. Of course, the tables turn on Noway, leading to his defeat.
  • In an early episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Astral tries to give Yuma advice to help him win a duel, but Yuma decides to be Commander Contrarian and says that he'll do the opposite of what Astral tells him. This gives Astral the idea to get Yuma to make certain plays by telling him to not make them. Yuma doesn't twig on until near the end of the duel.
  • This is how Kei from Ajin commands his IBM. It works for the most part, but as his frustration in his new position grows, it gradually starts to defy him.
  • In My Monster Secret, Mikan's debut chapter has her threatening to print something embarrassing about Asahi, to his distress. Eventually his more level-headed friend Okada reveals a "secret" to defeat her: Asahi tells Mikan to go ahead and print the story, and that he'd be proud to be a part of her newspaper, which causes her to abandon the idea entirely. In this case it's to do with the fact that Mikan delights in tormenting people and getting any kind of positive response bothers her, as seen earlier in the chapter when she responded to an honest compliment by flipping off the person in question and asking him not to say things like that.
  • In One Piece, Miss Goldenweek uses emotion-affecting paint against her foes, including Betrayal Black, which makes people want to betray their friends. When she gets Luffy in the center of a black paint circle, he refuses his friends' pleas to save them from their current dangerous situation. Vivi tells Luffy not to step out of the circle, so Luffy does the opposite, stepping out of the paint circle and coming to his senses.
  • My Hero Academia Smash!! makes a Running Gag out of the other members of Class 1-A using reverse psychology on Bakugo. If they tell him he shouldn't do something, he'll do it; if they tell him he wouldn't be able to do something even if they asked him to, he will instantly try to prove them wrong.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Legion of Super-Heroes "Legends of the Dead Earth" annual, Wildfire is trying to recreate both the Legion and the UP spirit of inter-species cooperation. He doesn't expect his current group of trainees to do it, instead pinning his hopes on their descendants, who will be raised with Legion values. To ensure there are descendants, he tells them they're forbidden to "fraternise".
  • Laff-A-Lympics: Yogi tricks Huckleberry Hound into becoming their team's cook by claiming the latter isn't fit for the job.
  • Used to murderous ends in The Wicked + The Divine, when Ananke (untruthfully) tells Baphomet that while the Prometheus Gambit won't work for mortals, as a death god, he would be able to gain the extra years of any god he killed. She emphatically tells him to never, ever, do this, at risk of execution. Because she trusts him not to even think about trying it. Three guesses as to what dear Baph chooses to do with this information. Though in the end, he can't actually go through with it. Unfortunately, having publicly attacked two gods already, it makes him a very easy Fall Guy when gods do start turning up dead. This is implied have been her plan from the beginning.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man:
    • Flash is injured and can't play basketball, so the gym teacher asks Parker to join. Peter is unsure, he's not really a sports guy... unil Flash, who was begging the teacher, says "But Parker?? Come on!". That makes Peter decide to join, just to spite Flash.
    • Nick Fury tells Peter not to investigate the Trask Corporation. Once he's gone, the SHIELD flunky with him asks if he told Spider-Man not to investigate knowing Peter would ignore him and do exactly that. Fury just grins and goes "yup".
  • The Smurfs:
    • Played with in the comic book version of "King Smurf". In the forest, when King Smurf has his expedition of loyal Smurfs look for the rebel Smurfs' hidden base, he soon sees a sign that says "The rebel base is not this way". Thinking that the sign is actually pointing them in the direction of the base, King Smurf leads his expedition in that direction, even with more signs trying to dissuade its followers from going any further. Then they come across the sign that says "Whatever you do, don't look up!" King Smurf and his expedition look up and soon find themselves falling into a pond where they see a sign that says "We warned you! Ha ha ha ha!"
    • Before that, King Smurf prior to his being King Smurf tries to get Dimwitty Smurf to vote for him by telling him to vote for Brainy, since he knows that Dimwitty will do the exact opposite of what he's told to do. However, Dimwitty surprisingly still votes for Brainy.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield:
    • When Jon tells Garfield to go away, Garfield dares Jon to make him do it. Jon then tells Garfield to stay and Garfield leaves.
    • In an earlier strip, Jon invites Garfield to scratch up the sofa, citing this trope to Lyman by name. Garfield scratches up the sofa anyway and dubs it "reverse reverse psychology."
    • In the October 10th, 2021 Sunday strip, Jon offered Garfield a kitty treat, reassuring him that there was absolutely no pill hidden inside of it. Garfield opted to take an identical treat off a nearby plate instead. Guess which treat had the pill in it?
  • In The Boondocks, after Riley is exposed as having framed Huey with his hairstyle (by doing a driveby shooting as well as apparently ordering a dirty magazine), he manages to trick his grandfather into getting him Cornrows as his punishment (earlier, his grandfather didn't want to get him cornrows). He also tries to do Reverse Psychology in regards to receiving a whuppin' (beating him with a belt), but he was stopped mid-sentence.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin writes a letter to Santa stating he only wants "love and peace for my fellow man" in an attempt to receive more gifts on Christmas. Hobbes tells him that it's a risky strategy so Calvin scraps it.

    Fan Works 
  • In Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, Dr. Brainstorm's Servant Ray quite literally runs on this: it does exactly the opposite he tells it to do. Only occasionally (usually during a Let's Get Dangerous! mode of his) does he use this to his advantage.
  • In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Walter and Integra need Alucard to investigate something in Brazil, but he's not exactly very good at following orders. So instead, Walter informs Alucard that he's allowed to go on a vacation and go anywhere he likes... except Brazil, where he says that Integra has forbidden him from going. Alucard goes there anyways to spite them, unaware that was what they wanted him to do all along.
    Alucard: Taking the police girl and the Frenchman!

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Return of Jafar: Aladdin and Jasmine have a fight after the former allows Iago, the villain's former Mook, to live in the palace. Iago repays him with a song that encourages Jasmine to just give up on love, while listing everything about Aladdin that she loves. She catches on, but gets his point and reconciles with Aladdin.
  • The Lion King (1994): Scar implores Simba not to visit the elephant graveyard and tells him that only the bravest of lions dare to go there, knowing full well that Simba's ego and curiosity will get the better of him.
  • Tangled: Flynn tries to get rid of Rapunzel by using her fear of disobeying her mother, by encouraging her to do it:
    Flynn: Overprotecting mother, forbidden road trip... But let me ease your conscience: this is part of growing up. A little rebellion, a little adventure. That's good, healthy even. [...] Does your mother deserve it? No. Would this break her heart and crush her soul? Of course. But you've just got to do it.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi has a song dedicated to this trope. In this case, she wants Batman to love her and tricks him by claiming that she's more interested in Superman, which causes Batman to formally propose to her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied by the Scooby-Doo (2002) film, where Daphne confuses the heck out of some guy who tells her not to go to a haunted house by wondering aloud whether he's using reverse psychology, reverse reverse psychology, reverse reverse reverse psychology, or something else entirely. Upshot: she's going to look for clues there.
    Voodoo Guy: What ever you do, Miss, do not, I repeat NOT go into the Spooky Island castle!
    Daphne: AH-HA! You want me to go into that castle!
    Voodoo Guy: Didn't you hear what I just said?
    Daphne: But you're scary and you knew I'd do the opposite of what you said so you told me not to go up to that castle so I would go up to that castle where you've set a trap to capture me. [beat] Unless... unless you knew I'd figure it out so you told me not to go up to that castle so I would think that you wanted me to go so I wouldn't go just like you didnt want me to... I'll find out what your hiding in that castle. You'll see. [leaves]
    Voodoo Guy: What in the world...?
  • Don't, a fictional movie trailer included in the film Grindhouse, spoofs the horror movie version of the trope; a narrator repeatedly issues warnings to not go into the haunted house, not look in the basement, etc., while the characters on screen do just that.
  • The song "Stay Awake" from Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins truly owns this trope. She gets herself hired by interviewing her employer and tricks Mr. Banks into taking the kids to work with him by acting like it's his idea.
  • In the Thor movie, Loki pulls this fairly subtly to get Thor to attack Jotunheim.
  • In the original The Bad News Bears, Buttermaker is able to convince Amanda to join the Bears [1]
  • Both the film and book version of A Series of Unfortunate Events tell the audience to go see/read something more pleasant than what they're currently attending.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dr. Donovan warns Dr. Jones (Junior) not to trust anyone. Indy promptly puts his trust in Dr. Schneider and gets burned for it. Doubly applied, since Dr. Donovan convinced Indy to trust him enough in the first place to meet with Dr. Schneider.
  • For a Few Dollars More has a nice little complex one. Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name character is a bounty hunter working from the inside of Big Bad Indio's gang. His partner on the outside, Colonel Mortimer, tells him to advise the gang to flee north since there's a good place for an ambush, and the two can catch the gang in a cross-fire. However, Eastwood wants all the money for himself and advises the gang to go south, pointing out that north would be a good place for an ambush. But Indio doesn't know Eastwood very well and suspects it may be a trap. So he splits the difference and heads east. When they get there, Eastwood finds Mortimer waiting for him, explaining that he knew Eastwood would do the exact opposite of what he said and also knew that Indio is suspicious of betrayal. Since they couldn't go west, as that's where they pulled off their heist, east was the only place they could run.
  • In the documentary Gideons Army, a public defender is convinced of his client's innocence, but does not have the funds to order a fingerprint analysis that he believes will exonerate his client. In court, he motions to prohibit any fingerprint evidence from being used during the trial. The suspicious prosecutor fights him and immediately orders up a fingerprint analysis on the prosecution's dime. The fingerprints come in and do not match the defendant's, providing a strong case for the defense.
  • In The Neverending Story, Mr. Coreander asks Bastion some poignant questions about his love of books, then warns him that the one he's reading is "not for you", because it is unlike the "safe," normal books that Bastian is familiar with. (Unlike in the original novel, the film's Coreander seems to have done this for the express purpose of getting Bastian interested enough in the book to swipe it while Coreander's back is turned.)
  • In Life Is Beautiful, Joshua thinks he can just leave the concentration camp because Guido tricked him into thinking it was all a big game. Guido decides to march up to the door of their barracks while loudly saying that they've almost won, but if Joshua wants to chicken out then no one's stopping him. Cue Joshua diving right back into his hiding spot.
  • The Cat in the Hat:
    • The Cat puts a lock on the crate/dimensional portal that Thing 1 and Thing 2 came from, and sternly tells Conrad not to unlock it and open it. Conrad, being a compulsive rule-breaker, proceeds to do just that. At the end of the film, the Cat reveals that he planned the whole day's events, up to and including Conrad opening the crate after being told not to.
    The Cat: Why do you think I made it my one rule? I knew you couldn't resist.
    • On a wider scale, the Things themselves run on this: they will always do the exact opposite of what you tell them. At first it makes them a gigantic nuisance, but Conrad eventually figures out how to use it to order them around.
      Conrad: Things, do not do anything to slow down my mom.
      Things: Got it! Slow down mom!
  • Star Wars:
    • In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku uses reverse psychology on the Jedi by telling them in a Sarcastic Confession exactly what's going on with the Sith conspiracy. It backfires: they take the wise course of action and decide not to flat out believe it, but keep their eyes peeled.
    • In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine is a master at making the Jedi do what he wants them to do. When he makes Anakin his representative on the Council, they grudgingly allow it but refuse to promote him to the rank of Master, thus getting him pissed off at them and making him easier to corrupt. Later, when Palpatine directs the Jedi to send Anakin to kill General Grievous, they send Obi-Wan instead, meaning that he's not on Coruscant to prevent Anakin from succumbing to Palpatine's influence and falling to The Dark Side.
  • In The Uncanny, Lucy tells Angela not to step inside the circle because it might be dangerous, knowing that it will cause Angela to do exactly that.
  • In Casper, Dr. Harvey is a therapist trying to get the Ghostly Trio to resolve their Unfinished Business and move on to the afterlife; however, they do nothing but mock and prank him. When his daughter, Kat, wants to throw a Halloween party and worries about them ruining it, Dr. Harvey refuses to talk to them and just starts packing up all his things. By this point the Trio have so much fun messing with him that they get worried and decide to "cheer him up" instead of messing with Kat's party.
  • The Predator. Traeger tries to convince Rory to unlock the Predator spaceship by saying he doesn't think Rory can do it. Rory proves he's smarter than the G-Man gives him credit for.
    Rory: That's reverse psychology. I can do it, too. Don't go fuck yourself.
    Traeger laughs
  • The Soldier. When the Soldier reveals that his men have a nuclear missile targeted on Moscow, the KGB boss says he's full of it. The Soldier's only response is a laconic "Maybe". The KGB boss decides not to call his bluff.
  • Skillfully employed by Yossi in Jungle to make Marcus decide to accompany Kurt overland rather than going with Kevin on the raft.
  • The Other Guys has a case that backfires, where Gamble tries to make a man on a ledge give up on jumping by teasing him, saying he doesn't have the courage to leap. So he does!

  • The Day Santa Stopped Believing In Harold: Harold's mother tries to get him to come and open his presents by saying, "Too bad we don't know any little boys who want to get presents from Santa".
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck: Greg recalls his parents using this technique on him and Rodrick as kids. He then wants a cell phone but tells his parents that he doesn't because it's too much responsibility: this works, and his mother buys him a new phone.
  • Discworld:
    • In Witches Abroad, another witch, Desiderata Hollow, needs Granny Weatherwax's help with a problem, but suspects that Granny will refuse a direct appeal; so she asks Magrat to do it, and strictly forbids Granny to interfere, relying on Granny to stick an interfering nose in where she thinks it isn't wanted. She ensures Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax go on a quest with Magrat by adding "Tell those two Old Biddies to keep their noses out of this" to her will.
    • In Interesting Times, Rincewind makes use of his vast knowledge of cowardice by informing enemy soldiers that Cohen the Barbarian is not backed up by 2,300,009 invisible vampire ghosts.
    • In Carpe Jugulum, the vampire Count Magpyr's forbidding castle is named... wait for it... Don'tGoNearThe Castle. It works great, too — they were always crawling with guests, according to Igor. On the way to confront the Magpyrs the witches find the route is regularly marked by signs of this nature ("Last Chance Not to Go Near the Castle!").
    • In Men at Arms Vetinari wants Vimes to investigate the theft from the Assassins' Guild because he knows that the Assassins won't be able to do it, but he also knows that if he just tells Vimes to do it, he'll upset the Assassins. So he tells Vimes not to do it, which does work for a while. Unfortunately he runs into a Reverse Psychology Backfire when he goes as far as telling Vimes to Turn in Your Badge, and Vimes almost doesn't get back into the case in time.
    • In Hogfather, Death informs his granddaughter Susan that he is standing in for the missing Hogfather, and advises that she should not get involved. Naturally she gets involved. Death knows his granddaughter well.
    • In Thief of Time, when the History Monks learn the glass clock is being built again, Lobsang begs the senior monks to let him go to Uberwald and put a stop to it, rather than sending the ninjas. When he's strictly forbidden from going to Uberwald, he says that in that case, could he simply take his novice to Ankh-Morpork to learn the Way of Mrs Cosmpoplite? Nobody (except the Abbot, who goes along with it) notices that Lobsang's the one who convinced everyone the clock is in Uberwald, and not Ankh-Morpork.
  • In Dune Lady Jessica makes her Compelling Voice a little more effective by phrasing it like:
    Lady Jessica: Now boys, there's no need to fight over me. [guard stabs his deaf co-worker in the neck]
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge posts an educational decree outlawing The Quibbler. As Hermione points out, it ensures that everyone will want to read it.
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore tries to recruit a recalcitrant Slughorn. Just after the latter's interest is finally raised, the headmaster wryly says "I think I know a lost cause when I see it." It works.
  • The Lotterys Plus One: In chapter 8, when Iain says no to going to the beach, MaxiMum wonders aloud if he's just not up to dealing with the exertion and the heat. Iain changes his tune immediately after.
  • Used on the protagonist in the second Alex Rider book, Point Blanc. After escaping the titular boarding school using an improvised snowboard (while being shot at by men on snowmobiles), Alex has no desire whatsoever to take part in the imminent raid, but no-one else knows the building's layout. Cue one of the men he trained with in the first book coming to tell him that he's Just a Kid and can't take part. Alex figures it out a few seconds too late.
  • Used by Satan in the Incarnations of Immortality series. He's grown fond of Jehovah (not to be confused with God), and wants to stop the Holocaust that is killing his followers. So he invites Chronos and gloats about how the Nazis are all his plan. Chronos went back in time and prevents Hitler's rise to power, thus saving Jehovah.
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, one character argues with Menelaus not to try his mad experiment as if he really wants him to do it.
  • House of Leaves begins with a page containing nothing but the statement, "This is not for you."
  • Invoked and subverted in French book Le Vampire du CDI ("The vampire of the school library". Which, despite the title, is not a vampire story): After the school principal forbids students from reading at school (as part of his feud with the school librarian going out of control), the students react... in a fairly predictable manner. When the media start paying attention to the whole mess, he deflects accusations by convincing the journalists that he was just using reverse psychology.
  • Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin pull a lulu in The Silent Speaker. Wolfe sends Archie to collect evidence on the murder of a bureaucrat at an industry function, and make waves doing it, without revealing who his client is. He doesn't have one. When an executive from the trade organization calls Wolfe, Wolfe initially refuses to meet with him and, once meeting face to face, discourages the executive from hiring him. All of this obscures the fact that Wolfe is short on money to pay the bills and needs a fee badly.
  • Frindle follows a group of children who coin the titular word as a synonym for "pen" and try to promote it despite general mocking. Towards the end, the teacher who banned the use of the word turned out to be using this to promote the word, out of sympathy for the youthful rebels.
  • Played somewhat more seriously in Ender's Game. The bans on playing computer games for longer than a few hours are never enforced. They're just a way of making the games seem like Forbidden Fruit. Each game is used to evaluate the thought processes of its players. It foreshadows a later and even more serious example when Ender's handlers sternly warn him of the consequences of using the Little Doctor on a planet. Which is exactly what they hope he does.
  • This is the declared idea behind Grigori Oster's humorous book of Bad Advise — a series of short verses that encourage kids to do naughty (or sometimes downright horrible) things and misbehave as much as possible, with the "logic" being that children always do the opposite of what you tell them.
  • In Doctor Who Meets Scratchman by Tom Baker, the Doctor is trying to get the inhabitants of a small village to assemble in the church, where they'll be safe from the Monster of the Week. But the only person he finds is a nasty, suspicious postmistress, who won't listen to him. So he uses the phone box outside to call his companions at the church, and "remind" them that this safe haven is only for VIPs, secure in the knowledge the postmistress will be listening in, and will shortly be rallying the villagers to march on the church and demand entry.
  • The Cask of Amontillado: Montresor has made sure his servants leave his mansion for the night by explicitly telling them not to stir from the house in his absence, and he persuades Fortunato to keep going deeper into the cellars by telling him that he will just ask Luchesi instead, a man Fortunato feels is an inferior connoisseur of wines.
  • In Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona feels unappreciated by her family and announces that she's running away from home. Mrs. Quimby shocks her by seeming nonchalant about it and helping her pack. This gives Ramona second thoughts about leaving... and in the end, her mother makes the suitcase too heavy for her to carry, revealing that she doesn't want her to leave after all.
  • In Prince Caspian King Peter challenges King Miraz to settle their war in a personal duel. This is a terrible deal for Miraz, who has a more powerful army. His advisors tell him not to accept... because he'd obviously get his ass kicked. This gets him so mad he accepts out of sheer spite, just as the treacherous advisors intended.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica. Colonel Tigh pulls a brilliant one on Starbuck, whom he has an ongoing feud with. The Ace Pilot is laid up with a knee injury. She has recovered enough to move, but stays in bed anyway.
    Tigh: The Chief wanted me to kick your ass out of bed so you could help figure out that Raider of yours but, clearly, you still need the rest. So take your time, no rush.
    Starbuck: Do you actually think that reverse psychology crap is gonna work on me?
    Tigh: I really don't care what you think, Lieutenant. All I know is that every day you spend in that bed is another day that I have my opinion of you confirmed. As you were.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon's mother tricks Sheldon and Amy into getting back together by talking about how unsuitable for each other they are.
    Leonard: I saw what you did there.
    Mrs Cooper: He thinks he's such a smarty-pants. He's no different from any man — you tell 'em not to do something, that's all they wanna do. If I hadn't told my brother Stumpy not to clear out the wood-chipper by hand, we'd still be calling him Edward. Now don't you move, I'll bring over all the food.
    Leonard: No, no, no, I can do it. [gets up]
    Mrs Cooper: Well, isn't that sweet.
  • Blake's 7. In "Sarcophagus", Avon and Tarrant are bickering over who should be The Captain. When the Monster of the Week takes over the ship, Avon tells Tarrant they shouldn't just charge onto the flight deck and confront it. Tarrant proceeds to do just that, whereupon Avon (who hasn't followed him) gives his trademark mysterious smirk.
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert often does this in a tongue-and-cheek manner with suggestions, such as stating explicitly that he doesn't want his interviews remixed into Stupid Statement Dance Mixes, especially not with excerpts from the audiobook version of "I Am America (And So Can You!)" mixed in, and particularly not from Chapter 7.
    Stephen Colbert: I am not telling you to paste this page [with the word "Truthiness" included] into the dictionary at your local school and/or library. Are we clear on how I'm not telling you to do that?
  • In the "Modern Warfare" episode of Community, when the study group need a distraction while pinned down by paintball snipers:
    Jeff: Hey, Pierce! Don't come over here, okay?
    Pierce: Screw you! I'm coming over there! [does so; gets shot]
  • Doctor Who:
    • "New Earth": Cassandra claims that the cat nurse nuns have been keeping a secret, and tells Rose to come in close so she can whisper it in her ear. Rose laughs at such an obvious trap and backs away — into Cassandra's real trap.
    • "Army of Ghosts": The Doctor uses this very effectively against Yvonne Hartman. After practically screaming at her to stop breaching dimensional barriers with no effect, he... suddenly stops, says "Okay" and pulls up a chair to watch. Yvonne calls the "ghost shift" off.
    • "The Impossible Astronaut": The Doctor expressly tells Canton Everett Delaware III not to follow him into the big blue box parked in the Oval Office. Guess What?
      "Canton, on no account follow us into the box and close the door behind you."
    • In "Paradise Towers", the Doctor claims that the rulebook says the Caretakers holding him prisoner have to stand up, move away from the prisoner and close their eyes. He also says it's a ridiculous rule, he doesn't understand why it's there, and obviously they won't do such a foolish thing. The thought of not following the rules prevents them questioning whether this rule actually exists in a way that simply reminding them they're Lawful Stupid and have to obey probably wouldn't.
  • In Engrenages, Joséphine Karlsson demonstrates her skills in this, when she manages to have a younger, less confident fellow lawyer beg her to take her (potentially sensational) case, after enthusiastically telling her how awesome it is to work on an affair with horrible odds that can potentially ruin your career.
  • Used several times in Frasier, most notably when Frasier persuades Niles to do his show by saying it requires skills Niles doesn't possess. Being a psychiatrist, Niles recognizes what Frasier's doing, but it works anyway.
    Niles: Frasier, this pathetic attempt at reverse psychology is beneath you!
    Frasier: Then you're not going to do my show?
    Niles: No, I am going to do your show, and I'm going to do it better than you ever dreamed of doing it!
  • There is an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where Will's little cousin Nicky wants to run away from home, so Will sides with him, giving him all sorts of advice on how to survive in the streets. After this goes on for a while, Nicky announces he's not leaving anymore, "but not because of that reverse psychology stuff you were doing." "Oh? Why then?" "I'm 5 years old, you moron!"
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Barney tries and fails at this by claiming to love his new nickname "Swarley". His friends catch on right away, and correctly guess that he can't even bring himself to say the name.
  • Used skillfully in various episodes of Hustle. In one episode Stacy, who got a job at the bank they're conning, is effortlessly able to manipulate her bosses simply by sounding a note of caution whenever she wants them to take a huge risk.
  • In M*A*S*H after a visiting British officer loudly berates his wounded men for being slackers and malingerers. Hawkeye and company are appalled, but later realize that the men are recovering well and showing excellent morale. The officer patiently explains that his actions were deliberate, since no one would berate a dying man, his harsh demeanor convinces his men that they can't be hurt that badly.
  • Open All Hours: Arkwright's trying to shift some Jamaica ginger cake off his shop's shelves, so as soon as a customer comes through the door he immediately says "I'm sorry, but I can only let you have one!" before implying it's an aphrodisiac, in one of the most bizarre cases of Sex for Product ever.
  • Star Trek:
  • In the first episode of That '70s Show, after granting the Vista Cruiser to Eric, Red warns him not to drive the car out of town because it's old. Eric is then pressured by his friends into taking the car to a Led Zeppelin concert in Kenosha, and Red already points to this trope.
    Kitty: I wonder where they're going.
    Red: Out of town.
    Kitty: Are you sure?
    Red: Of course. I told them not to.
  • When Top Gear found out that people in Amsterdam had been throwing small, light Smart Cars into rivers, Jeremy worried that people in England might think of doing the same thing to small, light G-Wizzes, and urged them not to... while making very intense eye contact with the camera and nodding a lot.
  • Thomas Cromwell makes use of this in Wolf Hall when presiding over the trial of George Boleyn. He hands George a paper and tells him only to say if he recognizes the words, not to read them aloud. George — who is something of a Smug Snake — proceeds to read it out in a mocking tone and belatedly realizes that he's just doomed himself by speaking a slanderous statement about Henry.
    George: ...These are not my words.
    Cromwell: They are now.
  • Young Sheldon:
    • In "A Lock-In, a Weather Girl and a Disgusting Habit", Missy gets Sheldon to go hide somewhere by stating that he's no good at playing the sardines game. Sheldon of course has to prove her wrong.
    • In "A Pink Cadillac and a Glorious Tribal Dance", Mary balks at buying the Mary Kay sales starter kit, she'll have to discuss it with her husband. Lundy says he likes it that men make the decisions and women make the beds. Of course this has the intended effect of making Mary go ahead and write a check for the kit.
    • In "Blonde Ambition and the Concept of Zero", George says that maybe Sheldon's not cut out for teaching. Sheldon is well aware that his father is using reverse psychology to convince him to tutor Billy in math, but he winds up tutoring Billy anyway.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible
    • God finds out that the Israelites have started worshiping the Golden Calf and tells Moses "Now leave Me alone, and My anger will be kindled against them so that I will annihilate them" (Ex. 32:10). Rabbinic commentary notes that Moses hadn't had a chance to object yet, so God has no reason to say "leave Me alone" — except to inform Moses that He wouldn't destroy them if he did object.
  • A Middle Eastern story has a thief condemned to death. He fights it to no avail, but the morning of the execution he wakes and shouts for the guards to hurry up and kill him. He explains that he had a dream where Heaven needs a judge and so will make the next person to be executed their judge, no matter their sins in life. The judge who condemned him, hearing this, has himself executed, letting the thief go free.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In "Oops, My Mistake" from Bear in the Big Blue House, Bear dials Lois, the Woodland Valley telephone operator, asking to speak with "Old Doc Hogg." She first transfers him to Jacques' Logs and then to Big Old Bullfrog. Finally, Bear calls her again and asks her to connect him to "Jacques' Logs." She repeats this verbatim, but nevertheless connects him with Doc Hogg, as he wanted.

  • In Old Harry's Game, Edith the historian declares that she'll only write Satan's biography if he uncovers who murdered her. Satan refuses, insisting there's no point and that he has better things to do. Then she decides that it's probably beyond him, and he shifts gears instantly.
    Satan: ...Have I just been manipulated, Scumspawn?

  • Basically the plot of The Fantasticks, where two neighboring families who adore each other try to fix up their son and daughter by staging a feud and building a wall between their houses. Lampshaded in the song "Never Say No."
  • In The Golden Apple, when the old men of Angel's Roost are chanting vengeance and Penelope, clinging to Ulysses, pleads with him and reminds him of his promise not to go away, Mother Hare tells him not to go but "stay home and die in bed." This is all the incentive Ulysses needs to agree with the old men and head off to Rhododendron.

    Video Games 
  • Portal:
    • Used to a great extend by GLaDOS in Portal, and also decorated with a huge lampshade.
      GLaDOS: I don't want to tell you your business, but if it were me, I'd leave that thing alone.
      GLaDOS: Do you think I'm trying to trick you with... reverse psychology? I mean, seriously now.
    • Of particular note is the Morality Core in GLaDOS's boss battle. The core falls off her frame and she very unconvincingly tells you it's nothing important and she doesn't care about it, making it seem like she's trying to talk you out of destroying it. But, the moment after the core goes down the incinerator GLaDOS thanks you for destroying her Restraining Bolt and releases the deadly neurotoxin.
  • Portal 2
    • The game contains a segment in which the Big Bad offers you a chance to voluntarily kill yourself rather than face certain doom in his lair. He even goes so far as to point out that you dying now would be his "just desserts", as he would be properly furious that he'd gone to all the trouble to set up his deadly lair only to have you die anticlimactically twenty feet from the door. In fact, he does want you dead by any means possible, but by this point he's so frustrated with your ability to survive his Death Traps that he'll try anything. For bonus laughs, he is very pleasantly surprised if you actually take him up on the offer.
    • It's not the first time he tries that either. After his first outright assassination, if you come back to the area, he tries to get you to jump into a pit with suitably ridiculous "incentives" including your parents, a boy band, and a pony. The kicker? You get an achievement for doing it!
      GLaDOS: You really do have brain damage, don't you?!
  • In Ever17, You says that her mother believes that her father died years ago and searching for clues in LeMU would be a waste of time. Yuubiseiharukana's mother really believed it and really felt it was a waste of time. Yuubiseiakikana's mother is Yuubiseiharukana, and she both knows for a fact that her father is dead and that telling her daughter not to bother investigating is the perfect way to get her to go to LeMU. Who would know better than her how to motivate herself?
  • In one of the Codex entries in Dragon Age II, a bear tricks a traveller into feeding himself to a dragon by sparing his life as long as he agrees not to go further into the cave, but not telling him why. The traveller is unable to resist his curiosity. Overlaps with Schmuck Bait.
  • In Kingdom of Magic, the hero has to talk a water elemental into turning a water wheel. One of the dialog choices: (Paraphrased, it's an old game)
    Hero: I'll convince you with reverse psychology!
    Elemental: Go ahead! Do your worst!
    Hero: [to him/herself] Damn! If he wants me to use reverse psychology, he must be immune. So I can't use that!
  • In Star Control II, you can try to use reverse psychology with the VUX or the Slylandro probes (it both cases, it does not work). In the latter case, is even lampshaded:
    You: Hmmm... maybe reverse psychology would work. Er... Die alien scum!
  • In the Wife ending of The Stanley Parable, the Narrator attempts to use reverse psychology on Stanley, telling him not to press a button when he is asked to. But Thou Must!, as it is the only way to proceed.
  • Evoked and lampshaded by the protagonist in The Silent Age about a button on the wall in the club:
    Joe: "Please do not press the button." Oh come on. If they really didn't want people to press the button, why'd they put up the sign?
  • In Undertale, when the player visits Undyne's home in a Pacifist run after sparing her, Undyne very vocally declares that she would never be friends with them. Papyrus claims that Undyne is not up to the challenge of being their friend. Cue Undyne vowing that she isn't just gonna be their friend, but their best friend.
    Undyne: I'll make you like me so much, you won't be able to think of anyone else!!! Fuhuhuhuhu, it's the PERFECT REVENGE!!
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, you meet Sammy and Pauline Wins, an aspiring Outlaw Couple who plan to go on a crime spree through the New Vegas Strip with a stolen antique gun. With a high enough Speech skill, you can get them to abandon their plan, not by pointing out its flaws, but by telling them it's a great idea and letting Pauline figure out the rest herself:
    The Courier: That's the greatest plan I've ever heard in my entire life.
    Pauline: Really? You think so? We've only got the one gun, and there's two of us... and we've never done anything like this before... We've never been on the Strip, either, so we don't know how many guards the casinos have. And I keep having these nightmares... What are we thinking? We're gonna get ourselves killed!
  • In Mystic Messenger, one of 707's plans to play around with Yoosung involves taking all the credit for making Yoosung quit playing LOLOL until he gets thoroughly annoyed and then pleading with him to not return to LOLOL to goad him into doing just that.
  • Don't Shit Your Pants: Entering "Don't shit your pants" results in you shitting your pants anyway.

    Web Comics 
  • Helen in Narbonic is really good at this:
    Artie: You want me to teleport to the moon? How expendable do you think I am?
    Helen: I'm sorry, Artie. Sometimes I forget how small and helpless you are.
    Artie: Wha— Now, see, this is why I've been filing all those complaints to the ACLU! You constantly assume I can't perform equally simply because of my species! Well I'm sick of it! I can rescue Dave and Mell at least as well as a primate!
    Helen: [thinks] I need a new hobby.
  • Used in Looking for Group, when Richard is explicitly told he does not have enough power to open up a portal, since the other characters know he does, but feel that just asking him to do it would probably yield negative results. Since this is Richard we're talking about, they're probably right...
  • Girl Genius:
    • Demonstrated when Agatha stumbles upon a fearsome monster in an enemy's abandoned lab and shouts that she is not its creator, after some confusion it lets her go.
    • Naturally, the creator shows up later and says the exact opposite. Guess what happens to him.
  • In Darths & Droids, during the beginning of the Episode IV storyline, R2-D2 tries to plan his escape from the Sandcrawler, only to discover that the Jawas have put a restraining bolt on him, and it controls his actions, rendering him unable and unwilling to remove it. When he is under custodity of the Lars family, he uses this trope to get Luke to remove it, effectively exploiting the restraining bolt's countermeasures.
  • Statistical Fact features this comic about a mock list of least effective crime prevention techniques. There, this trope is #27.
  • Page #49 of Girls Next Door: Jareth files a claim of sexual harrassment against Sarah (to her complete bafflement, as he's the one stalking and harrassing her all the time), with mention of considering getting a restraining order if she persists. The girls realize that this is a golden opportunity to get rid of him (since a restraining order works both ways, and the only reason she can't file one is because of his diplomatic immunity), and get ready to force the issue by Sarah putting on a revealing outfit and glomping Jareth while Christine gets the spectacle on tape. She's just about to begin when she realizes that he's playing her.
  • Elf Only Inn: In one strip, Duke tells the girls to not dress scantily and flirt around them as a ploy. The girls agree to it, much to Duke's chagrin.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Xykon uses it early in the comic, to lure the adventurers into touching Dorukan's Gate. And it works.
      Xykon: See? Never bet against the gullibility of the good guys, Redcloack.
      Redcloak: I had no idea you had put so many skill ranks in Reverse Psychology.
      MitD: Wait, what gate?
    • Roy manages to convince his father to help scrying the mortal realm from the afterlife... by refusing to beg him or even to get angry about his unwillingness. Eugene even calls it "reverse psychology" at one point... but he still falls for it. It's unintentional on Roy's part; he really no longer wanted his dad's help at that point. It's absolutely brilliant, too. Only a minute or two after Eugene tells Roy to screw off and go back the mountain to cry to his mother, he's scrying for him.
      Eugene Greenhilt: Listen to me, young man, you will stand there and watch as I scry for you and like it, because I am your father!
      Roy Greenhilt: You do know that doesn't make any sense, right?
    • In "Bird Brained", Blackwing, Vaarsuvius's familiar, deduces that his own advice is important, since Qarr offers to stop Zz'dtri from killing Vaarsuvius if Blackwing lets the imp kill him.
    • In "Credits and Deductions", V inverts it, deducing from Qarr's words what he wants, and then doing the opposite.
  • Freefall:
    • A robot has been programmed to not obey non-human commands. Florence tells it to not tell her the program responsible, and it disobeys. Sam cuts to the chase and orders it not to treat the two of them as human.
    • When Niomi raises the possibility of mutiny on the Savage Chicken ("This seems to be the kind of ship that runs better with the captain in hibernation"), Sam tells her the right to mutiny is enshrined in the contract she signed — along with the additional fee for it.
      Sam: I'm not saying you have to mutiny, I'm letting you know you have the option.
      Niomi: Ha! Like I'm ever going to mutiny at this price.
      Niomi: Did Sam just mutiny-proof the ship?
  • Tower of God: In the Hide and Seek test, Khun tells Quant that Anaak, who he's supposed to be catching, jumped down from the high bridge they're on, and taunts Quant that he isn't powerful enough to survive the jump after her. Subverted, because it's really a Kansas City Shuffle: once Quant thinks he's figured out that Khun is trying to make him jump even though Anaak isn't really down there, that's when he falls into the real trap.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Ashley does this to Elliot accidentally. She genuinely tells him that, while she's curious about magic, if he isn't sure what he's allowed to tell her, he probably shouldn't tell her anything.
    Elliot: Is this reverse psychology? Because it's working.
    Ashley: No, I mean it! Don't tell me anything.
  • Played for Laughs in The Last Days Of Fox Hound when the group is lost inside Ocelot's mind, a massive featureless maze, and they finally come to some doors, the first of which is labeled "PORN."
    Mantis: Oh, come on! It's Ocelot! Of course all the signs are going to be wrong!
    Mantis: Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus GOD!!!
    Raven: Unless he wants you to think that.
    Mantis: I would kill him later but I need to kill myself now!

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Used with surprising skill by The Monarch in The Venture Bros.. Having invaded the Venture compound, the villain comes across a deactivated robot with Dr. Venture's face, and proceeds to do something — nasty with it. He's discovered by Dean, who exclaims that he's going to run tell is father. At first the Monarch is embarrassed, but suddenly changes to full supervillain shouting mode. "Yes! Do it! Fulfill my plan! Tell him and your conversion to evil shall be complete!" Dean bravely defies the villain, saying he will never tell what he saw (without wondering, of course, how doing so will make him the least bit evil.)
  • The Simpsons pokes fun at this kind of reverse psychology several times:
    • In "Saturdays of Thunder":
      Homer: [reading] Cosby's First Law of Inter-generational Perversity: No matter what you tell your child to do, he will always do the opposite. Huh?
      Homer's Brain: Don't you get it!? You gotta use reverse psychology!
      Homer: Well, that sounds too complicated.
      Homer's Brain: Okay, don't use reverse psychology.
      Homer: [angry] All right, I will!
    • In "Bart's Inner Child", Bart encourages Homer to do this to get rid of the faulty trampoline Homer got from Krusty. He has Homer tie it up with a chain and bike lock, and within seconds Snake is taking a set of bolt cutters to the chain.
      Snake: Alright, I got me a bed!
    • In "Grade School Confidential", Chief Wiggum tries his hand when trying to persuade Bart, Skinner and Krabbappel, who have barricaded themselves in the school, to surrender themselves ("Fine, stay in the school! We don't want you to come out!"). It doesn't work ("Okay!").
    • In "Lisa's First Word": After an unsuccessful attempt to physically pull toddler Bart away from his crib, Homer tries the psychological route ("Ok, Marge, let's leave the little baby with his crib."); moments later, when he and Marge have walked away and Bart hasn't budged, he tries to pull Bart away from the crib again.
    • In "The Lastest Gun In The West", When retired cowboy actor Buck McCoy, upon being wheedled to reprise his role, tells Bart and Lisa, "The last city-slickers to use reverse psychology on me are pushing up daisies!" ("They're dead?" "No, they just got really lousy jobs...")
    • In "Sweets and Sour Marge", Homer tries to use reverse psychology on a toucan. It doesn't work, for precisely the same reasons that it wouldn't work on the toucans in the real world.
    • In "Marge on the Lam":
    Bart: You're absolutely right, Dad. We don't need a baby-sitter.
    Homer: Wait a minute [takes out card reading: "Always do opposite of what Bart Says."] You kids do need a baby-sitter!
    Bart: [to himself] Blast that infernal card! [to Homer] Don't give that card to me.
    Homer: Here ya go— [pulls card away] —No!
    • In another episode, Bart will be sent to a summer camp, but doesn't want to go, so he figures if he pretends to be interested but asks that Homer be the one to drive him there, Homer will find an excuse not to, while Homer, not wanting to drive him there, figures he can feign interest in it and Bart will find a reason not to go. The end result is that both accept to go to that camp.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "A Twist of Ed", Edd gets the idea to use Reverse Psychology to drive away the Kanker sisters by acting as stalker-ish towards the girls as they do towards the boys. It might have worked were it not for Eddy, who was too much of a chicken to really sell it when it mattered. Then the Kankers realized they could use "reverse reverse psychology" to restore things back to normal. Before enacting the plan, Edd tries to convince a skeptical Eddy that it could work by telling Ed to not eat a pile of dirt. Ed suddenly feels compelled to do it, unable to not do it, and goes hog wild on it.
  • King of the Hill:
    Dale: Reverse Psychology. That'll never work.
    Hank: Yes it will.
    Dale: Gotcha.
  • Riley in The Boondocks tricks Granddad to allow him out of the house so he can visit Gangstalicious in the hospital:
    Riley: See I was like all into Granddad's mental mind. It was like psychology. But in reverse.
  • South Park:
    • In the episode, "Butt Out", Cartman thinks Kyle is using reverse psychology to trick him into not appearing in an anti-smoking commercial, but Kyle really doesn't want to do it.
      Cartman: Oh, I get it, Kyle. That's your Serbian Jew double bluff. Make me think you don't care about being in the commercial so that maybe I won't either. Ooops. didn't work, did it, Kyle?
      Kyle: No, we really want nothing more to do with these people.
      Cartman: Sure you don't, Kyle. Oh, and neither do I. Oh, I know what you're gonna say next. You're gonna say, "How about none of us show up tomorrow to do it?" And then I'm supposed to agree so that tomorrow you can waltz in all by yourself and do the commercial. That's Serbian Jew double bluff and it ain't gonna work on me ha ha ha.
    • Invoked in "Chef Goes Nanners" by Ned and Jimbo. In a desperate attempt to keep the city's racist flag unchanged, they disguise themselves as members of Ku Klux Klan and suggest voting to change it. When asked why, Jimbo explains that if the Klan votes to do something, the city, not wanting to side with racists, would vote for the exact opposite, and since the racists are in the minority, they're sure to lose. Thus, the flag would remain unchanged. The Klan agrees on this.
  • Johnny Bravo falls for this twice in an episode in which Suzie begs him to take her to the toy store. He catches on, saying that her Reverse Psychology will not work on him. She agrees, which angers Johnny so much that he forcibly takes her just to prove her wrong.
  • An unintentional example in the Spongebob Squarepants episode "The Camping Episode". When Squidward discovers that Spongebob and Patrick are only camping ten feet from their house, he returns to his house after a concise conversation with the two, until Spongebob tells Squidward to "Have fun inside!", which convinces Squidward that Spongebob is using that term to implicitly persuade Squidward to join in on the camping trip. It surprisingly works!
    • Another unintentional example is in "Club Spongebob" where Spongebob and Patrick say that Squidward can't fit in their club. Turns out they meant it literally.
  • Ayam Aghoul's debut episode in Aladdin: The Series has a moment like this with Aladdin and Genie after Aladdin unwittingly releases Aghoul, who declares Jasmine his bride.
    Aladdin: I'm gonna lose her, Genie, and it's all my fault!
    Genie: You're right, kid. All your fault.
    Aladdin: Huh?
    Genie: You know, the situation: Mingle with zombies, pay the price. You have every right to feel like a creep... creep!
    Aladdin: Now, wait a minute here! How was I supposed to know giving Jasmine a gift was going to unleash that guy?!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Dungeons & Discords", as Fluttershy tries to convince Discord to spend time with Spike and Big Mac, she slyly adds "Unless you're afraid they won't like you?" Discord calls her out on that, saying it's below her, but it still seems to be working on some level.
    Discord: Oh, please. Don't stoop to tedious reverse psychology. You're better than that.
  • On Milo Murphy's Law, Milo's awful luck can actual invoke this on reality, as seen in "Rooting for the Enemy": when Milo cheers for his own football team they keep losing, but when he (at first jokingly) cheers for their opponents, the tide suddenly turns.
  • In the Disney Winnie the Pooh installments, Kanga sometimes uses this as a parenting tactic with Roo. For example, in the book Oh, Bother! Someone's Messy!, after getting tired of always having to tell Roo to clean his room, she tells him he can just leave it however he wants. Roo thinks it's fun at first, but soon begins to think otherwise when he can't find anything in his messy room, then pays a visit to Piglet's place, which is always kept perfectly tidy. After this, and some help from the gang to clean his room, Roo even promises Kanga that he'll be more diligent about helping her to clean the entire house.
  • DuckTales (2017): In the first season finale, "The Shadow War: Day of the Ducks", Donald orders Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby to stay on the dock while the others head for Uncle Scrooge's money bin to confront Magica De Spell. As soon as the others leave, Huey says, "So we're totally going to Scrooge's money bin!" Later, when Donald takes out the shadow demons that were attacking his family:
    Louie: We can explain...
    Donald: Please, I told you not to come, so of course you showed up. And just when I need you.
    Louie: Classic reverse psychology. Feel like I should have seen that coming.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: In "Fathers Are People", Goofy tries to use reverse psychology to convince his son to pick up his toys, which ends up backfiring.
    Goofy: Now, Junior, don't you pick up a single, solitary one of those toys.
    Junior: Alright, I won't.
    Goofy: That's a good boy... Huh?!

    Real Life 
  • During World War II, many U.S. propaganda posters featured a Japanese person (or rather, a racist caricature thereof) encouraging you (in an Obviously Evil fashion) to do something contrary to the war effort.
  • The Streisand Effect is often an unintentional version of this trope in action. A big name tells you to stop looking at a picture they don't want put out, and suddenly the picture is everywhere despite their efforts. Sometimes publishers invoke it on their audience by running it with some mention of "the picture they DON'T want you to see!".
  • The University of Chicago, known for their eccentric admissions essay questions, assigned the following as an essay prompt one year: "Don't write about Reverse Psychology."
  • Washington DC police officer Eugene Goodman earned recognition by using reverse psychology against a mob invading the US Capitol building. As he reached a door to the area where congressmen were sheltering in place, Goodman began walking in the opposite direction, repeatedly telling the mob to back away from him. The mob continued following him, allowing Goodman to lead them away from the congressmen.


Video Example(s):


Forget About Love

In "The Return of Jafar," Jasmine is deeply upset with Aladdin for not telling her about hiding Iago in the palace. Iago, for his part, knows that Aladdin owed him for saving his life and therefore comes up with a reverse psychology gambit, aided by the Genie, to get Jasmine and Aladdin back together again. It works splendidly.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReversePsychology

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