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Is there a word for the motivation to do something only because of the desire to prove someone wrong? When someone is using reverse psychology like:

You won't do this chore, you'll probably just mess it up anyway.

Are they preying on a particular characteristic? If successful, is the manipulated person acting with a particular emotion?

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@oosterwal xkcd rules. xD –  mikhailcazi Oct 29 '13 at 10:15
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5 Answers

For my two-penneth, I'd say that the person is acting out of "sheer bloody-mindedness". Meaning, "I will do this just because people say I can't (whether or not I think it's still a desirable thing to do)".

Don't know if this is only British English.

Edit: Seems to be only BE in this context according to MW.

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The Americans have ornery, but I think that doesn't necessarily imply deliberately thwarting or proving someone else wrong (it might just be a side-effect of being set in one's ways, for example). Doing something out of *sheer bloody-mindedness" invariably means you're doing it to defy/discommode someone else, rather than simply because you wanted to anyway. –  FumbleFingers Sep 30 '11 at 14:06
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The person who has been motivated by reverse psychology may be doing what they've been motivated to do out of spite.

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The desire or emotion of wanting to prove someone wrong? Here are some examples of words that express that sentiment, used in a phrase or sentence:

  • Acting contrary
  • Motivated to find fault as an expression of schadenfreude
  • Behaving in a truculent manner
  • Being ornery, contentious or gratuitously fussy.

Or either of the two answers provided already, both of which are quite adequate.

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Faultfinding works here. Same with peevish, but peevish isn't as precise.

EDIT: Oh! Sorry.

Well, to this, I'd use the phrase "chip on your shoulder" , or something with "underdog". Someone can be on a "crusade" or "on a mission"

But this perhaps delves into psychology.

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I think this question was interpreted in reverse. It seems to be asking for the characteristic of a person who can be easily manipulated by the use of reverse psychology, not the one doing the manipulating.

Manipulable describes such a person, as do the words tractable, malleable, and pliable.

You could also call such a person easily swayed or easily influenced.

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Actually, now I'm stuck - the title asks one question ("Is there a word for the desire or emotion of wanting to prove someone wrong?") and the body asks another ("Are they preying on a particular characteristic?"). –  onomatomaniak Sep 30 '11 at 7:10
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