How To Actually Succeed In Life Most Powerful Effects

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How To Actually Succeed In Life Most Powerful Effects


How To Actually Succeed In Life Most Powerful Effects Has someone such as a teacher, parent or coachever had high expectations for you and though you weren’t sure you could do it, you workedreally hard and achieved or even exceeded a goal? Congratulations, you just experienced thePygmalion effect. The Pygmalion or Rosenthal effect can be boileddown to a single statement ‘higher expectations lead to higher performance.’ Your positive beliefs about a person’s capabilitiesimpact your behavior towards the person which in turn influences the person’s beliefsabout themselves. How they feel about themselves impacts theirbehavior towards you.


This confirms and strengthens your originalbeliefs about them and so on, basically creating a cycle of challenging positivity. The term comes from a Greek mythology abouta sculptor named Pygmalion who carved an ivory statue of a woman so perfect that he fellin love with his creation. In despair, Pygmalion prayed to Venus, thegoddess of love asking her to bring him a woman like the statue. She was soinspired by his love that she brought the statue to life. Yeah. The secondary name for this phenomena makesmore sense to us. In 1963 Harvard psychologist Robert Rosenthaltried an experiment using a controlled laboratory environment. He had two groups of students coach rats througha maze, misinforming one group that their rats were specially bred to be smart and’mazebright’, while telling the other group that their rats were dumb and ‘maze dull’. In actuality there was no difference betweenthe two groups of rats; all were just ordinary lab rats and randomly assigned to the brightor dull group. However, during the experiment the ‘smart’rats far outperformed the dumb rats. This showed that the expectations of the coachesand how they trained their rats as a result of those expectations affected the behaviorof the rats.


Based on the success with his experiment,Rosenthal conducted a large study, this time with humans at an elementary school. Working with principal Lenore F. Jacobson,Rosenthal administered an IQ test to students at Spruce Elementary School in South San Francisco. Afterwards, teachers were told that some ofthe students were “intellectual bloomers” and should do better academically as comparedto their classmates. The teachers were given a list of the bloomers’names. In reality, randomly 20% of the students weredesignated as “intellectual bloomers”. Over the next school year, the designatedbloomers excelled as predicted. At the end of the study, 8 months later Rosenthalonce again tested students using the same IQ test. In all grades, students in both the 20% bloomergroup and the regular student control group showed on average a gain in IQ from the firstIQ test to the second IQ test. However, the intellectual bloomers gainedmore IQ points on average, relative to the regular students. Overall, in grades first through six, thebloomer group showed about a 12 point gain as compared to 8.5 point gain for the controlgroup. First and second grade bloomers showed significantIQ gains, on average upwards of 27 points.


This led to the conclusion that teacher expectationsin their students’ potential, particularly for young children, can influence studentachievement. Rosenthal’s study reverberated through theeducation system. Basically everyone has great potential, ifonly their teacher would encourage it! Rosenthal’s experiment was somewhat controversialand criticized for weak methodology. Some felt that the IQ test Resenthal usedwas flawed. Teachers at the school ended up feeling angryand betrayed. Since then researchers have endeavored torecreate Rosenthal’s study with varying degrees of success. Results seem to be most fruitful when theteacher’s behavior is subconsciously driven, meaning that results tend to be not as strongwhen a teacher consciously creates expectations and alters their actions as opposed to trulybelieving in someone and acting accordingly. Even so the Pygmalion effect is a powerfultool and skills for encouraging the effect are taught in educator and leadership managementcourses, and are practiced in businesses, militaries and schools around the world. So what happens when a person has negativeexpectations of you? Yes, the opposite of the Pygmalion Effectis true, lower expectations lead to lower performance, it’s called the Golem effect. The effect is named after the golem, a magicalclay creature in Jewish mythology. In one legend, the golem was brought to lifeby a Rabbi to protect the Jews of Prague. However, over time, the golem was corruptedto the point of being a danger to those he was supposed to serve and had to be destroyed. As you can imagine the Pygmalion and Golemeffects can have severe ramifications when a teacher, boss, coach, etc has a personalbias for or against a particular ethnicity, gender or frankly any other way people categorizeother people.


Also both effects are self-fulfilling prophecies. Whether the expectations come from us or others,the effect manifests in the same fashion. An interesting, non scientific experimentvariation on these phonomeon was carried out by teacher Iowan Jane Elliott in 1968. Searching for a way to explain racism to herall white 3rd grade class the day after after Martin Luther King was assassinated, Elliottsegregated her students into “blue-eyed” and “brown-eyed” groups. On the first day, she told the class thatblue-eyed people were superior and treated the students accordingly. Among other injustices brown-eyed studentshad five fewer minutes of recess and weren’t allowed to play with the blue-eyed students. In class the brown eyed students were forcedto sit at the back of the classroom. Throughout the day Elliot made various commentsabout the inferiority of brown-eyed students. The following day, the status was reversed,with brown-eyed students being superior and the blue-eyed students considered inferior. Elliot found that during the day they wereconsidered inferior, the students’ work suffered. Also she was shocked to discover how quicklythe attitudes of children in the superior group turned vicious and discriminating. Afterwards the exercise was over, Elliot hadher class write essays on the experience. She ended up getting some of the essays publishedin her local newspaper. The reaction to Elliott’s experiment wasexplosive and she was ostracized in her town. However she went on to become a diversityeducator and some of her later work became the basis for modern corporate diversity training. So what does this all mean? Well, unfortunately you can’t control people’sopinions of you. The truth is that ultimately no matter howamazing you are, someone’s probably going to have a negative opinion of you and treatyou accordingly.


So our best suggestion is to Pygmalion yourself. The mentor, teacher or boss you want or needsimply may not show up in your life. You can spend valuable time waiting aroundfor them or your can do some personal work and create some aspects of such a relationshipin yourself. So how can you apply the Pygmalion effectto your personal, academic or professional life? Have high expectations for yourself and setambitious goals to reach. What would you like your life to look likea year from now? Five years from now? Create a goal map for yourself, listing outsmaller steps to take that lead to achieving a big goal. Don’t forget to build in rewards for achievingvarious mini goals along the way to bigger challenges. Try to develop and improve your sense of personalresponsibility. Explore and cultivate your strengths and passions. What do you like to do? What are you interested in?


Sure work on weaknesses too, but focus onyour strengths. Improving a weakness frequently means thatyou can go from mediocre to okay or not bad. But, when you work on your strengths, youcan strive for mastery or excellence. Manage your weaknesses so they aren’t hindrances,but put the majority of your energy into cultivating your strengths. Write out a personal peptalk that you canread aloud when you’re frustrated, anxious, discouraged or having a bad day. Your peptalk should mention some of your pastachievements, things you like about yourself and plans for the future. Surround yourself with thoughtful, positivepeople who support you and your goals and have goals of their own they are strivingtowards. Sometimes it’s not possible to remove negativeor unhealthy people from your life. As much as possible ignore the haters. Are you whom others say you are, or are youwho you want to be? You can also practice the Pygmalion effectwith other people. You don’t have to be their teacher or bossto be a force for positive change in their lives.


Have high yet realistic expectations of them. Listen attentively during conversations anddon’t cut your conversation partner off while they’re speaking. Offer encouragement. Be respectful and value other people’s time. In the famous book The 7 Habits of HighlyEffective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, Stephen R. Covey says “Treat a manas he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and hewill become as he can and should be.” How can that quote play out in your life? Do you have a particular incident where thepygmalion effect happened in your life.

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