The Pygmalion Effect

What we say and do has a dramatic effect on the success or failure of those we are in relationship with be it work or personal, subordinate or child.

You might be unknowingly witnessing the Pygmalion and/or Golem Effects in your niece or nephew, child or father, boss or subordinate and you may have only “you” to blame.  Although, these same people can be under the spell of either Effect because of their own doing, we can only control what we do.  So what can we do and what on earth are these Effects I am talking about?

These Effects (Pygmalion and Golem) both fall under the idea of a “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” which I am guessing you have all heard about.  If you have not heard of it, to put it simply Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is the idea that if you believe or say something enough it will happen.  The Pygmalion Effect is basically if you treat yourself or someone positively and assume the best from them you will begin to see those behaviors you assume.  You can probably guess that The Golem Effect is the opposite, if you treat yourself or someone negatively and assume the worst from them you will begin to see those behaviors you assume.

Our own prejudices play in to these Effects as you can guess.  In a study with students and teachers when a teacher assumed a student was gifted they treated them as gifted and those behaviors of intelligence and good results on homework began to be seen and those students’ IQ scores improved even though the student wasn’t truly labeled “gifted.” The other students not assumed to be gifted had no change in their behaviors or IQ scores.

Another example is more close to home – A teacher at Tulane University taught a janitor with an assumed low IQ every week how to be a computer operator and he eventually became responsible for training new computer operators. (Pygmalion in Management)

Moral of the story, in general strive to keep your standards high AND see others in the best possible light. You don’t have to do as much as you think, without even realizing it you can nudge your family member or employee toward success by just changing your mindset and assuming the best from them.  Remember, indifference says to anyone “I don’t think much of you.”