The Pygmalion Effect

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Children's Games (Bruegel), 1560

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Children's Games (Bruegel), 1560

notes on an article by fs on the Pygmalion Effect

  • "Pygmalion Effect" was coined in studies done in the 60s on the influence of teacher expectations on students' IQs
  • poses the question "if teacher's had high expectations, would they become self-fulfilling prophecies regardless of initial IQ?
  • although the conclusion is the effects were negligible, the Pygmalion Effect, expectations influencing performance, is widespread.

The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them. If manager's expectations are high, productivity is likely to be excellent. If their expectations are low, productivity is likely to be poor. It is as though there were a law that caused subordinates' performance to rise or fall to meet managers' expectations."

– Pygmalion in Management, J. Sterling Livingston

  • our reality is negotiable and can be manipulated by others, on purpose or by accident
  • What we achieve, how we think, how we act, and how we perceive our capabilities can be influenced by the expectations of those around us.

"The visions we offer our children shape the future. It matters what those visions are. Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Dreams are maps." — Carl Sagan

  • check your assumptions (especially the negative ones), actively fight against stereotypes and prejudice, they influence your behaviour and expectations of others that might affect their lives.
  • be mindful of the potential influence of our expectations
  • high expectations = inspire others to perform at their best
    • people's limitations are stretched if you change your perception of their limitations
  • if you want people around you to succeed, raise your expectations; if you expect the worst, you'll probably get it.

Roy T. Bennett said, “Great leaders can see the greatness in others when they can't see it themselves and lead them to their highest potential they don't even know” in The Light in the Heart