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Reverse psychology

In pop-culture the term Reverse Psychology refers to the attempt to persuade someone to do something by advocating doing the opposite.

Literary examples

In Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, Tom is assigned as punishment the difficult job of whitewashing a fence. By pretending that the task is actually a cherished privilege, Tom convinces a succession of other boys not only to do the work for him—but to pay Tom for allowing them to do it.

In one of Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories, Brer Rabbit escapes from Brer Fox by repeatedly pleading "Please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch." The fox does so, allowing the rabbit to escape.

In the television show Ed, Edd, and Eddy in an attempt to demonstrate reverse psychology, Edd commands Ed not to eat a pile of dirt, so, naturally, that's the first thing he does.

Reverse psychology occurs several times on The Simpsons, but its appearances are neither common nor uniform enough for it to qualify as a running gag.


The information above is not intended for and should not be used as a substitute for the diagnosis and/or treatment by a licensed, qualified, health-care professional. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It incorporates material originating from the Wikipedia article "Reverse psychology".

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