Trick Questions

Trick questions come in a wide variety of styles. Some trick questions are intentional and meant to be used in competition or as riddles. Other trick questions are used in everyday communication and are intended to manipulate someone. Trick questions can be fun, especially when they are used as part of a game. However, trick questions can also be frustrating or infuriating. If someone is trying to trick you into admitting or saying something you do not want to say by using trick questions, it can lead to an argument. If you suspect a question presented to you is a trick, consider a few of the following scenarios in which trick questions are used.

Trick Questions on Tests

Trick questions are often used in academic settings on tests. A multiple choice question can be a trick question when there is more than one option that answers the question correctly. If you are taking a test and more than one multiple choice answer applies, reread the directions. There is a chance you were instructed to choose the best answer, as opposed to any answer that could be right. Revisit the question and see if one of the answers is better than another.

Another type of trick question used on academic tests is the one that is opposite or similar. For instance, a multiple choice test might include four answers, one of which is correct, two of which have nothing to do with the question, and one of which is the exact opposite or similar. The question is testing to see how closely you paid attention to the information supplied in preparation of the test. For instance, a trick question might ask: What color is the grass? The answers include green, yellow, chair, and hat. Obviously chair and hat are wrong and are not even colors. Yellow is a color, but it is not the right color. This answer is similar to the correct answer. The question is used to determine if you were paying partial attention (“I know the grass is a color, but I’m not sure which”) or if you paid full attention and retained the information provided (“I know the grass is a color and that color is green”).

Finally, a trick question on a test might be one that does not really have an answer or whose answer requires a loophole. For instance, you might receive instructions to write a 500 word essay on why Abraham Lincoln was the best choice for the first president of the United States. In order to truly get this question correct, your essay would need to state that Lincoln was not the first president. Those who assume Lincoln was the first president based on the question and write an answer focusing on the reasons why have fallen for the trick.

Trick Questions for Your Significant Other

Trick questions for significant others are the ones that most commonly lead to arguments. This type of question is often used in a relationship to trick or manipulate someone. They come in a variety of different formats, but the question asker almost always has ulterior motives. They might already know the answer to the question and they are trying to trick their significant other into admitting it. For instance, if you know your wife was shopping with friends over the weekend and that she spent a great deal of money, you might ask her what she did this weekend, even though you already know. You have the information you need, but you are tricking her into admitting she did something behind your back.

Another type of trick question used to manipulate people in a relationship is a question that assumes something. By posing the question to someone, you force them to inadvertently admit that assumption. For instance, a couple might be out and see an attractive, scantily-clad woman walk by. The woman says to her husband, “You would never let me wear an outfit that makes me look so sexy, right?” If the husband answers honestly, “no, I would not,” he is admitting he found the stranger sexy. If he answers “Sure I would,” he is still admitting he found her sexy. If the wife is insecure about her appearance or how her husband feels about her, this type of question can provoke an argument.

There are many other types of trick questions that can be used to manipulate conversations between romantic partners. Often, people engage in arguments using only trick questions because they want to win the argument instead of getting to the root of the problem. Confronting your partner with trick questions is emotionally exhausting for both parties involved. Instead of using trick questions to steer a conversation in a certain direction, talk honestly about problems and focus more on fixing issues than getting your own way.

Trick Questions as Entertainment

Not all trick questions are intended to frustrate. Trick questions can be part of a game that is intended to be silly or funny. You might be presented with trick questions intended to trip you up on purpose, but in a way that entertains you or brings you joy. There are even organized games that ask trick questions as a means of testing your sharpness when faced with trivia questions. The key to dealing with trick questions is to focus more on the question than the answer. If you are eager to blurt out whatever you think is the answer, you are likely to get the question wrong. Trick questions are often phrased in a manner that makes an answer seem obvious, but upon further examination, the question contains a hidden flaw. If you can spot the flaw, you are more likely to get the answer correct.

In some cases, though, the hidden flaw is not a flaw at all. Some trick questions are designed to be so obvious, they confuse the person answering. When an answer is so obvious, people second guess themselves, wondering why the question would even be asked. Perhaps the most famous of all trick questions is: Who is buried in Grant’s tomb? The answer, of course, is Ulysses S. Grant, an American Civil War General and President of the United States. The answer is actually given in the question, causing people to think there must be another answer because the question is far too simple. Another key to answering trick questions correctly: don’t over think questions when there is an obvious answer.

Trick questions can be fun or they can be frustrating. If you want to use trick questions, come up with fun ones to ask as part of a game and avoid using them in interpersonal communication.