The Pygmalion effect

This is an incredible technique you need to have in your tool belt. A quick post that I’ll come back to add more to later. For more reading, check out Kerwin Rae’s blogpost on the topic.

The Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, is the phenomenon whereby others’ expectations of a target person affect the target person’s performance.[1] The effect is named after the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had carved, or alternately, after the psychologist Robert Rosenthal. Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson, in their book, applied the idea to teachers’ expectations of their students affecting the student’s performance, a view that has been undermined by subsequent research (e.g., Raudenbush [1984]).[2]

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Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson‘s study showed that, if teachers were led to expect enhanced performance from children, then the children’s performance was enhanced. This study supported the hypothesis that reality can be positively or negatively influenced by the expectations of others, called the observer-expectancy effect. Rosenthal argued that biased expectancies could affect reality and create self-fulfilling prophecies.[4]

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