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  • The Pygmalion effect is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to higher performance.

  • It can be best understood by a circle where our beliefs about another person's abilities influence our actions toward the other person.

  • This action has an impact on the other's beliefs about themselves.

  • The beliefs about themselves cause the others actions toward us, which again reinforce our beliefs about that person.

  • And so on and on and on.

  • Let's look at an example and start with your beliefs.

  • Imagine you are the coach of a basketball team.

  • And you observe your team on the first day: Chris and Joe are new members of your team.

  • Chris reminds you of a famous player.

  • Joe reminds you of an annoying boy from your high school years.

  • Unconsciously you decide what to expect of each one of them.

  • Your beliefs influence your actions: when Chris enters the court you are happy to see him.

  • When he plays you push him to do better, practice harder, stay an extra hour.

  • If he makes a mistake you explained to him how to improve.

  • When Joe comes in you hardly notice him.

  • You're glad to see him score but you don't give him much feedback and don't invest extra time in his training.

  • When Joe does a mistake you are a little annoyed.

  • Your actions impact their beliefs about themselves: Chris feels you appreciate him and he appreciates you in return.

  • He believes in his own success.

  • Joe feels you have little patience and appreciation for him he does not believe in his own success.

  • Their beliefs about themselves causes their actions toward you.

  • Chris finds more and more joy in playing and he never misses a training session.

  • During the games, he gives a hundred percent all the time.

  • Joe finds less joy in playing than before and doesn't give his full effort in the games.

  • He starts to miss the training sessions sometimes.

  • Which reinforces your beliefs about them.

  • You see how Chris enjoys playing, how he trains hard and shows a fast increase in his performance.

  • Joe seems not to be very motivated, his skills don't increase as much and he starts to show up less.

  • You knew it right away.

  • Thank God your instincts were right!

  • The Pygmalion effect is also known as the Rosenthal experiment named after a research of Robert Rosenthal at Harvard.

  • In the first study, he challenged test subjects to coach rats through a maze.

  • Half the group were told their rats were extremely intelligent and specifically trained, the other half were told that their rats were dumb.

  • In fact the rats were all the same.

  • During the experiment however the "smart" rats performed well better than the "dumb" ones.

  • This showed how expectations of coaches influenced even the performance of rats.

  • Rosenthal then did the Pygmalion in school study together with Lenore Jacobson.

  • At the beginning of the school year a group of elementary school teachers were told that some of their new pupils had extraordinary talent and potential.

  • This information which was completely made up was given about random average students in each class.

  • All students had done the IQ test in advance.

  • By the end of the year the students that were described as more talented had significantly increased their performance in the IQ tests compared to the rest of the class.

  • Robert Rosenthal concluded: "When we expect certain behaviors of others we are likely to act in ways that make the expected behavior more likely to occur."

  • What do you think about this theory?

  • And if you believe it is there a way to prevent ourselves from being shaped by others in a negative way?

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The Pygmalion effect is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to higher performance.

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The Pygmalion Effect

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    Mackenzie posted on 2019/09/10
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