Reverse psychology argues that the more you demand on X, the more someone will want to anti-X, where X is a desired action (or non-action) and anti-X is the opposite of that desired action (or non-action). The quintessential example:
the Don’t Push This Button button. It tells you not to push it, and thus, you want to push it more than if the button didn’t say not to push it. Or, if the button itself doesn’t have a warning, if someone else instructs you, “Whatever you do, do not push that button,” of course you’ll want to do nothing but push it.
I don’t know about you, but if the desired outcome, X is actually not to do something, one will find me to be a much more obedient individual if I wasn’t forbidden to do whatever it is that a person wishes me not to do. Statistically, I believe the chances that I will adhere to X is much greater if I had the option to X, rather than the instruction to X. In other words, visualize yourself entering an empty hotel ballroom. You look around and see only drapes on the windows, a podium near the back wall and four chandeliers on the ceiling.
Suddenly, a table and a chair appear. There’s an index card on it: Table A. You’re tired from standing so you sit down. A couple of hours later, you leave the hotel room. The next day, you return and see two more tables: B and C, each with a chair. You sit at Table B for thirty minutes and then Table C for three hours. You go back to Table A, just to look at it, and then you exit the room. When you go back a couple days later, there is a huge sign by Table A insisting that you cannot sit there until a later date.
Now, if you’re good at following instructions (no matter how asinine the logic behind them), you will simply ignore Table A, wouldn’t you?
Ordinarily, I would be very good at such a command. But the older I get, the more I think and pause. If you don’t want anyone to sit at Table A, why is it visible? Is it a test of resolve? A test of resisting temptation? Is it because in life there are times when you are not allowed to experience or access directly something that is in plain sight and you must learn to handle yourself in such scenarios?
I know that a person cannot always do what they want, when they want….and that which is unavailable (even if visible) is coveted all the more; nevertheless, I’m starting to suspect that if Table A didn’t have that sign, then you very well could choose not to sit there.