Self-Fulfilling Prophecy And Social Psychology: Fake It 'Till You Make It True

May 29, 2015

By: Anna Agoncillo

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Whether you are a strong believer of predictions or not, there is one Psychological phenomenon that make predictions real. It is called the "Self-fulfilling Prophecy"

Self-fulfilling Prophecy, as the name suggests, are expectations about the occurrence of a future event or behavior that act to increase the likelihood the event or behavior will occur (Feldman, 2012).
In 1948, sociologist Robert K. Merton defined Self-Fulfilling Prophecy as: "the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true"

Simply, this prophecy affects the future outcome due to the indirect or direct desire to confirm it. It revolves around the subjective and personal predictions you have about your environment. Its subjective and personal nature is rooted from our individual differences.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy and Life

Self-fulfilling Prophecy can be applied in your career, school, and stereotypical tendencies.

In your career, the good or bad faith you put in yourself affects the effort you put in a project. For instance, if you a budding writer that is confident with your manuscript then, you will write a strong proposal and will be motivated to find credible agents. 

In your stereotypical tendencies, if you think that members of a specific group lack ambition then, you may treat them in a way that brings about the lack of ambition (Seibt & Föster, 2005). 

In school, some teachers build their expectations about their students and communicate those through various behaviors that the students react to. The said students directly or indirectly adjust their behavior to match the teachers' expectations. To put this in perspective, here are examples of Self-fulfilling Prophecy in the educational setting:

a. Seating the perceived "poor students" far from the board may lead to lower performance as they cannot clearly see or hear the lecture.

b. Criticizing and noticing the incorrect responses of the expected "less capable" students more rather than their correct ones.

Image Credits: Russell Johnson via Flickr
The expectations you have can positively or negatively affect the behavior of others. This is why it is important to be aware of your thoughts. Then, you must make a conscious effort to treat everyone fairly regardless of what you is expected of them. Encourage others to do well. And, believe in your own capabilities because YOU CAN! :)

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