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Make Him Exaggerate his Statement


Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > Make Him Exaggerate his Statement

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Contradiction and contention irritate a man into exaggerating his statement. By contradicting your opponent you may drive him into extending beyond its proper limits a statement which, at all events within those limits and in itself, is true; and when you refute this exaggerated form of it, you look as though you had also refuted his original statement. Contrarily, you must take care not to allow yourself to be misled by contradiction into exaggerating or extending a statement of your own. It will often happen that your opponent will himself directly try to extend your statement further than you meant it; here you must at once stop him, and bring him back to the limits which you set up: "That's what I said, and no more".


You say you like her, but I suspect you actually do not like her at all.

Oh no I'm not! (Oh yes you are!)

You are suggesting I'm opposed to the motion. Well in fact it could go either way and I wouldn't mind.


When a person pushes us in some way, such as suggesting we should think something, our need for a sense of control is impacted and we often try to show this by reacting in the opposite direction. In this way we become polarized, adopting more extreme views than we at first intended.

Some people are naturally contrary and react so often and so predictably, using 'reverse psychology' on them works well. For other people, you need to be more careful. One approach is to get them wound up and emotional (and so less thoughtful about their reactions) before using this method.

You can use this method in two ways. One is to push them in the direction opposite to where you want them to go. The other is just to get them to an extreme position where it is easier to defeat them with logical argument or just show their extremism as unreasonable.

'Make Him Exaggerate his Statement' is the twenty-third of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

Amplification principle, Polarization, Reaction Formation, Reverse Psychology


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