Back in 1964, on a day just like any other at Spruce Elementary School in San Francisco, the teachers were told by their principal that psychologist Robert Rosenthal and his team would be conducting a new IQ test on the children. Such was the nature of this test, that it could predict which students would ‘bloom’ academically in the future. Once the test was conducted, the names of these promising students were handed to the teachers. Over the next year, to nobody’s surprise, what was predicted came true. The students who were expected to do well, performed better at the same IQ test they had given previously.
However, Dr. Rosenthal wasn’t entirely truthful with the teachers. The test he conducted was no different than a standard IQ test and the list of potential high performers was a randomly generated list. The teachers were only made to believe that the names of students who were on the list will do well.
Then how did the list of intellectual ‘bloomers’ who were actually chosen at random, manage to make the prophecy come true? Happyho also provide best Meditation classes and yoga classes in Noida and Delhi NCR India area.
Dr. Rosenthal revealed that it was the teachers’ belief and the subconscious cues they displayed that made the select list of students do consistently well in school.
Can someone’s subconscious belief in us, actually make us perform well in whatever our endeavours may be? If yes, how important is it for us to find people who wish well for us and believe in us? And what happens if you don’t find someone who has faith in you, what can you do? In that scenario, can you be your own cheerleader?
The teachers in Dr. Rosenthal’s experiment didn’t explicitly voice their expectations to the students. It was observed that through the choice of words and subconscious signals given by the teachers, such as their body language, which is a powerful tool of non-verbal communication, students were able to pick up on what was expected of them and act accordingly.
People are extremely sharp at picking up on subconscious cues. Which is why we would sometimes just know, when we walk into a room, if we are welcomed or if our presence isn’t well received.
To take advantage of the Pygmalion effect, it is best if we work on developing a positive feedback loop for people around us.
Here is how we can do it:
- See people around you in a positive light. Be it your friends, family or employees. Truly believe that they are capable of achieving higher goals and becoming better people
- Your friends and family are likely to pick up on that energy, the cues you subconsciously send out and your choice of words which will be more encouraging in nature. This can spike their self-worth and give them the reinforcement they need to take on a more challenging endeavour
- A stronger belief in their capability, will give them the confidence needed to push themselves to perform better at the task at hand
- Their improved performance will strengthen your belief in them, thereby creating a loop of positivity
It is also why apprentices of chefs or musicians are so often heavily influenced by their mentor -someone they are constantly in contact with and learn so closely from. Their culinary or musical style may either be stymied by a berating and discouraging mentor or moulded to great heights by an encouraging expert. Happyho also provide best Meditation classes and yoga classes in Noida and Delhi NCR India area.
The inverse also holds true – the Golem effect is the opposite of Pygmalion effect. If we think that someone expects less of us, we tend to underperform. We are unable to exploit our capabilities to their fullest and therefore are at a higher risk of failure. We will meet different kinds of people throughout our lives, some who will help us grow and some who will think negatively of us and our abilities.
It is for this very reason, why it would augur well for us if we would hold a strong and positive image of ourselves in our mind. Since we can’t always wait for someone to hold our abilities to a high regard and have faith in us, we have to be that force of positivity for ourselves. Imagine you set out to prepare a technically advanced dish you haven’t made before. Firm belief that you have what it takes to execute the dish well, despite having never made it, will give you the confidence to push yourself and do better. The same can be replicated in various fields – be it academics, your career or your exploration of your inner self. Believe that you can achieve a higher goal and you might just prove yourself right.
However, expectations of oneself and of others should be within achievable distance. Overstretched goals add unnecessary stress. Failure to achieve an unattainably high goal would only result in demoralization, frustration and disappointment. Expecting that we would be able to execute a 7 course meal, when having never cooked before or that our mind would be absolutely still and would not wander during our first meditation attempt is likely to yield results that can negatively impact our progress and faith in our capability. Realistic expectations coupled with encouragement can help people achieve goals that they might not have been able to achieve by themselves. It is imperative that we identify exactly where to curb our expectation of someone so that they don’t pay for our miscalculation.
Tennis legend Roger Federer grew up excelling at soccer. At 15, when Federer was leaning towards a career in tennis instead of soccer, his father, being of limited financial means, told him that Roger was expected to do well early in his career as a tennis player, as his father had no intention of supporting his son when he was well into his 30’s and was ranked around 300th place. Federer’s father knew what his son is capable of. Robert Federer budgeted his finances to fund his son’s career, which was an act of well calculated expectation coupled with a leap of faith that young Roger Federer must have worked hard to justify.
The power of positively influencing those around us, is the strength of the Pygmalion effect. Being aware of the consequences of the Golem effect, we shouldn’t let someone’s lower expectations of ourselves impact our positive image of ourselves either.