The Pygmalion Effect


Or The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy


When I was in college getting my education degree I read a book that profoundly affected me and my eventual teaching style. Actually, it has affected my entire life. That book was Pygmalion In the Classroom, by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson.

The basic premise and findings of Rosenthal’s and Jacobsen’s research is that when teachers expect students to do well they do; and when teachers expect children to not do well, they do not.

Pretty simple, right?

At the time when I was in college this was a pretty revolutionary idea in the field of education. Today it is accepted as true as there has been plenty of research that supports Rosenthal’s and Jacobesn’s theory.

But the fact is, business and management have known about the Pygmalion Effect for years.

It is now often called the self-fullfilling prophecy.

Eric Garner, one of the best-known writers and trainers in the personal development and management world says, “A team does as well as you and the team think they can. This idea is known as “the self-fulfilling prophecy”. When you believe the team will perform well, in some strange, magical way they do. And similarly, when you believe they won’t perform well, they don’t.

“There is enough experimental data to suggest that the self-fulfilling prophecy is true.”

According to a group named ACCEL TEAM:

“As it is known and taught today in management and education circles, the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy was conceptualized by Robert Merton  professor [now deceased] of sociology at Columbia University. In a 1957 work called “Social Theory and Social Structure,” Merton said the phenomenon occurs when “a false definition of the situation evokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true.” [Emphasis mine.]

“In other words, once an expectation is set, even if it isn’t accurate, we tend to act in ways that are consistent with that expectation.”

In other words, the research has shown that how we believe the world is and what we believe it can become has a powerful effect on how things turn out.

The purpose of some of the research and the experiments performed was to support the hypothesis that reality can be influenced by the expectations of others.

The Recession

Now let’s take the self-fulfilling prophecy and look at the current recession, layoffs, and rising food costs.

What are your expectations concerning the length and depth of the recession we and the rest of the world are in? Will it get better? Will it get worse.?

Is it possible that if we think the worst the worst will come? Is it possible that if we think the best the recession may not be as bad?

I have been thinking a lot about all of this recently, especially during the debate (and I use that term loosely, it was more a hissy fit between a couple of spoiled children) on the debt ceiling limit in Congress lo these many weeks.

This “debate” got so crazy at times it resembled the children in the following video.



There was certainly a lot of fear mongering going on during the debt ceiling  “debate” Did this fear mongering alter your perception of how bad things are or will get?

There is no doubt the economy is in dire straights and the recession will apparently be a long one. A lot of people are hurting. Cost of food and gasoline are increasing.

That is a realistic assessment of where we are.

But I have questions.

Beyond the realistic assessment, how much should we fear the future? Or should we fear it at all?

How much stock should we put in The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? Will our fears result in us acting and behaving in ways that actually bring worse upon us?

I have been mulling these thoughts over and over in my mind for several weeks now.

So it was with some relief that I read the following headline in a Reuters on-line article this morning:

“S&P ends string of losses on tech rebound.”

The article was full of caution. The article indicated some indicators were still weak. But amid those, there were a few other positive signs.

The article ended with these three sentences:

“Some 10.5 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, the highest since mid-March and above the daily average of around 7.48 billion.

“On the NYSE, advancers beat decliners 1,725 to 1,274.

“On the Nasdaq, advancers outpaced decliners 1,511 to 1,054.” [All emphasis mine.]

A friend of mine in the Ohio house building industry also told me there are some new sales in select areas. Not  a lot but a glimmer of hope. This was an improvement over six months ago when there was little to none.

All of this gives me some hope.

I hope they give you some hope as well.

Featured Recipe    Sparkling Limeade

Last summer in the hot and humid days of July I made old fashioned lemonade for you. I thought you might like some thing new this year in the way of a cool refreshing drink for the hot and humid days that still lie before us.

And do I have a delightful one for you today.

I got this recipe from a cousin. Don’t know where she got it.  But it is delightfully refreshing. In fact, I am drinking one as I work on this post. Yum.

This is what you will need for 4 tall glasses:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup limeade concentrate melted

¼ cup water

3 ¼ cup club soda

2 tablespoons Grenadine

Ice cubes, lots of ice cubes


1 lime

Here is what you do:

Pour the sugar into a large pitcher.

Place the ¼ cup concentrate and the ¼ cup water into a measuring cup…………….

……..and pour this mixture on top of the sugar. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.

Add the club soda.

Add the Grenadine and mix well.

Put lots of ice into tall glasses.

Pour the drink over the ice.

Optional: If using the lime cut it into thin round and place one round on the edge of each glass.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy!!! *Clink* Cheers!

Bon appétit


½ cup sugar                                   $0.16

¼ cup limeade concentrate              $0.28

¼ cup water                                    ——-

3 ¼ cup club soda                           $1.29

2 tablespoons Grenadine                  $0.50

Ice cubes, lots of ice cubes


1 lime                                              $0.83

Total Cost w/o lime = $2.23
Total cost w/ lime = $3.06
Cost per serving w/o lime = $0.56
Cost per serving w/ lime = $0.77
 Has refreshing ever cost so little?

Quote of the Day

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth/ William Shakespeare


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