Employee Motivation, the Organizational Environment and Productivity
Better Management by Perception
The concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy can be summarized in these four key principles:
- We form certain expectations of people or events
- We communicate those expectations with various cues
- People tend to respond to these cues by adjusting their behavior to match them
- The result is that the original expectation becomes true
This creates a circle of self-fulfilling prophecies.
Does it work?
A convincing body of behavioral research says it does.
In 1971 Robert Rosenthal, a professor of social psychology at Harvard, described an experiment in which he told a group of students that he had developed a strain of super-intelligent rats that could run mazes quickly. He then passed out perfectly normal rats at random, telling half of the students that they had the new "maze-bright" rats and the other half that they got "maze-dull" rats.
The rats believed to be bright improved daily in running the maze they ran faster and more accurately. The "dull" rats refused to budge from the starting point 29% of the time, while the "bright" rats refused only 11% of the time.
This experiment illustrates the first of a number of corollaries to our four basic principles.
Next | Corollaries 1 & 2