‘The Pygmalion Effect’

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28th July, 2023

In the 1960s, the psychologists Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson went to 18 classrooms and told teachers that some of their students had an “unusual potential for intellectual gains.”

The students identified as having unusual potential, in reality, were selected at random.

When later tested, the “unusual” students became unusual, showing greater gains in IQ than their classmates. Rosenthal and Jacobson dubbed this the “Pygmalion effect,” named from the Greek myth of Pygmalion, the sculptor who carved a statue of a beautiful woman that he later fell in love with.

He became obsessed with the statue and wished that he could find a woman as beautiful as his sculpture to marry.

Aphrodite, the goddess of love, granted his wish and turned his sculpture into a woman.

Pygmalion’s fixation on the sculpture allowed it to come to life, just as our focus on an expectation can impact the outcome in a given situation.

Expectations, Rosenthal and Jacobson conclude in ‘Pygmalion in the Classroom,’ are a self-fulfilling prophecy.

High expectations shape high performance.

Low expectations shape low performance.

The Pygmalion effect happens because as social creatures, we are influenced by our own and other’s expectations.

If we expect success from an individual, we are likely to give them greater support in order to help them achieve that success.

Similarly, if we believe someone has high expectations of us, we will work harder to meet those expectations.

Expectations act as a prophecy because they become motivators for hard work.

If we are in a leadership position, like teachers, bosses, advisors and therapists are, we should always maintain and express positive expectations because these expectations will actually impact how we treat those that we are supporting, as well as how those individuals behave.

Many a times, we limit ourselves by being realistic in our expectations but on the contrary, ‘Pygmalion Effect’ says :

“If you start expecting more from your team and leaders, It in turn drives them to pursue higher goals without realising and the end result is way higher achievement than normal.”

Use the ‘Pygmalion Effect,’ to help people dream big,  achieve & stay blessed forever.