We are lowkey what others expect us to be: The Pygmalion Effect

In our very first class for advanced level mathematics in high school, my teacher started by introducing himself and soon after he went on to predict how many of us were gonna pass his class and how many were going to fail. Strangely enough, he had done it over the years and somehow his predictions would always come out true. Did this guy somehow possess a crystal ball under his table or was somehow using statistics to predict our passes? No and no,he simply had expectations he would set on us and unbeknwonst to us we would fullfill his expectations, this is a psychology trick called the Pygmalion effect and allow me to explain how people use it to actually make us live up to their expectations.


In an ideal world, we are our own bosses, we are independent and our opinions are not based on the last podcast we heard and social media doesn’t affect our sense off self worth, and we make our own decisions. However, Earth is the ghetto, like a friend of mine always says and our reality is far from this. Our opinions are basicaly based on the information we have been exposed to and there’s a whole bunch of people who sit behind a desk and influence our fashion and social media feeds. We are inside a matrix where everything around us is carefully controlled and our choices made for us, but i want to talk about how other human beings can influence us through a psychological phenomenon i stumbled upon called the pygmalion effect. It basically entails how high expectation leads to better results and thus the expectations that other people set on us directly impact our performance.

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Take sports for example. When you go for try-outs for any sport, the coach will mostly likely instantly pick out youngsters he feels like are promising. Once he does that, he pays extra attention to their development because he EXPECTS them to excel, and hence, even if they were of average talent, they will mostly likely go pro. The same dynamic happens in every classroom. After a lesson or two, teachers will immediately pick out students they deem to be ‘bright’, and for the rest of the semester, they will pay attention to these students to make sure that they live up to the high expectations they have made for them, and in turn these students will progress to score higher marks. On the flip side, if the same teacher assumes you to be lazy or dumb ( The Golem effect), he won’t take much care to your progress because he hasn’t placed any bets on you passing, and most likely that student will score low marks. Basically this effect implies that we are only as good as others think we are.

I’m not looking down on self-help and personal motivation, but it surely helps a lot more when the people who are in charge of your advancement believe in it as much as you do. This is not limited to academics and sports, even in society , we are often associated with character traits based on how we look, and as a result of people’s expectations, we end up acting exactly the way we look. If Tim has a stern face, people automatically assume he’s a serious person who doesn’t crack jokes, and in the end poor old Tim eventually lives up to this trait that’s expected of him and will never deliver any of the zingers he thought of. Likewise, good-looking people are expected to be confident and good at socialising and will thus be more socially adept in social situations and benefit from the ‘pretty previledge’ and get more opportunities out of life than the rest of us.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


One might ask, well shit dude, it seems like we are pretty screwed if the way we perform is based on other people’s expectations. How then can we make things to go in our favour? Well i got news for you, there’s a way to hack the system! Teachers obviously don’t know the IQ’s of students at the beginning of a class and that coach certainly doesn’t know who has what it takes, they simply pick up on cues that help them come to this conclusion. The teacher will look for the students that appear more engaged, more inquisitive and with more ZEAL. This obviously isn’t scientifically proven, but i believe that if you show enough hunger and zeal from the onset, you’re more likely to appeal to the powers that be and hopefully they’ll put their money on you and you’ll be able to buckle up and ride to the finishing line. Do yourself a favour, drop the cool guy act, be humble and participate in whatever discipline that it is you want to get into. Anytime you step into my lectures you’ll mostly likely find me at the front, nodding like a dumbass and asking questions like the most clueless guy in the room, but that’s how you hack the system baby!


If you’ve read up to this point you’re a real one and i appreciate you for your patience to read through my stuff, if this interested you, feel free to subscribe to my email updates, like and comment. Remember to always give 100% and maybe, just maybe, you might benefit from the Pygmalion effect. Peace and love y’all.

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