Reverse Psychology

Students brainstorm examples of “reverse psychology” and then create a short dialogue based on an example from another group.

Learner Level: High Intermediate – Advanced
Theme: Family, relationships
Skills: Writing, persuading
Time: 20 minutes
Materials: None
Grouping: Pairs (or 3s)
Preparation: Write the following partnerships on the board: Ex-boyfriend-Ex Girlfriend / Teacher-Student(s) / Parent(s)- Child / Friend-Friend/ Husband -WIfe / Employer-Employee(s)

Teacher Instructions:

1. Teach the word “reverse psychology”: a method of convincing another person by suggesting the opposite of what you want them to do. Ask students to give real life examples of this type of persuasion. Offer hints if your students canʼt think of any. (Telling an elderly person she canʼt do something. Suggesting that a type of food is too spicy to try. Informing children that it is way too cold to play outside. Telling an ex-boyfriend that his new love interest is really pretty and he should never leave her.) 2 minutes
2. Put students in pairs. Tell each pair to choose one of the partnerships from the board (EX. Parent-Child. )
3. Pairs should brainstorm a list of scenarios where reverse psychology might work based on this relationship. (5 minutes)

For Example:
Brainstorm: eating vegetables (Youʼre going to get too smart.), cleaning room (Your friends will all want to come over.), going to bed (Youʼll wake up way too early and there will only be cartoons on TV.), spending money (You should spend ALL of your money on one thing so that your piggy bank is empty.)

4. After a few minutes of brainstorming, have partners swap papers with another pair. Pairs choose 1 example from their peersʼ list of examples and write a short dialogue (up to 5 lines) based on one of the suggested scenarios. If time allows, have partners read out the dialogue to the class.

For Example:
Parent: I wouldnʼt eat those vegetables if I were you.
Child: I wasnʼt going to eat them. You know I hate carrots.
Parent: I know, and you donʼt want to get any smarter.
Child: What do you mean?
Parent: Well, carrots make you smart. But, if you get smart, you might get an A on your test. The other kids in your class would be so jealous.
Child: Jealous? I want to get an A! Maybe I should eat my carrots.
Parent: I wouldnʼt.

Teacher 2 Teacher:

If you have an uneven number of students make sure one group writes a dialogue with three speaking parts. For example, Mom and Dad can use reverse psychology on a child, or a teacher can use reverse psychology on two students.


Leave a Comment ↓

  1. ESL Library Staff says:

    Jun 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks Jason! We fixed it.

  2. Jason Ringdahl says:

    Jun 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Hello, PDF not found on server :(

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