The Pygmalion Effect


Psychologist Robert Rosenthal saw this happening in school systems between teacher and student and dubbed it the “Pygmalion Effect’-named after the Greek myth of a man named Pygmalion, then a king of Cyprus, carved a statue of a perfect woman, who falls in love with the statue that he created to such a degree that he asked the gods to make the statue alive so he can love her and she can loved him back.

Essentially what he discovered was that when teachers expect high performance from some children, the children do in fact, show better results. Label them as “gifted” (even without supposed evidence to support the label) and the teacher will elicit gifted performance from the students.

Long before this research was done, human relations guru Dale Carnegie wrote, `Become genuinely interested in other people.` When we are genuinely interested in others, really curious about them, they feel respected and valued. Implied in our interest is the suggestion that they have a lot to offer. As we show our interest, they tend to become more interesting, more creative, and more capable.

One of the most valuable NLP presuppositions that I consciously adopt each day is: “every person already has all the necessary resources to affect any desired change”. What this means is, if a person wants to change in any way, they can do it! They have all the inner resources. Resources are thought of as internal images, sounds and feelings. They can be memories in the form of reference experiences, whether that person has done it directly, or has seen or heard someone else do it. They may lack the “how” but they have the capability.

If you make a conscious choice to expect the best from others, you will tend to get it, from friends, family members, colleagues, and service people. Your behavior toward them, genuinely expressed, will begin to create the self-fulfilling prophecy that people are often more than they seem.

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