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Self Fulfilling Prophecy


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Topic : The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Organisational Behaviour

1. The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy was coined by Robert Merton in 1948, describing it as how (1) an expectation may evoke a behaviour of an individual therefore increasing the chances of it becoming true. Merton concluded that (2) a belief eventually leads to a result as it influences the individual to change their behaviours to match your initial expectations.

My coach expects me to do well and he spends more time with me preparing for my competition. I performed well and got a gold medal.

2. Introduction

More often that not, the outcomes of events that occur in a person’s life is the product of the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy.

In this article, we will address these questions as follow. First, we present the definition of the self-fulfilling prophecies. Second, we will look at the process of the self-fulfilling prophecy and how it is applied in our everyday life. We subsequently identify the effects of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Fourth, we will discuss the relation of self-fulfilling prophecy to stereotypes. Finally, we will conclude by weighing up the pros and cons of the self-fulfilling prophecy and how it can be fully utilised in an organisation.

3. Applications of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Three steps are involved in the self-fulfilling prophecy process (McShane, Olekalns & Travaglione, 2012).

Process begins when

Stage (1) * Defining attitudes, and beliefs of its members * Employer interacts with employee who present highly visible and distinctive characteristics (includes gender, social class, disability, occupation or race) * First impressions or expectations set to the employee are based on assumptions about the characteristics dictated by the employers’s previous experience or by conformity to group norms and stereotypes. * Stereotyping occurs as employer may consider factors like cultural or past experiences to set expectations

Stage (2) * Managers behave towards their employees in a manner consistent with their beliefs, in a rigid and stereotyped manner * High-expectancy employees (those expected to do well) receive more emotional support (eg. more smiling and eye contact), more frequent and valuable communication (constructive feedback), more challenging goals, better training and more opportunities to demonstrate good performance

Stage (3) * Managers’ behaviour affects employee’s abilities and self-confidence * Includes two effects of the supervisor’s behaviour on the employee * (1)Through better training and more practice opportunities, a high-expectancy employee learns more skills and knowledge than a low-expectancy employee * (2)Employee becomes more self-confident, which results in higher motivation and willingness to set more challenging goals * Low achievers do not have past experiences to boost their self-confidence however they respond more favourably to self-fulfilling prophecy

Stage (4) * Employee’s behaviour becomes consistent with supervisor’s expectations * High expectancy employees have higher motivation and better skills, resulting in better performance, while the opposite for low-expectancy employees. * Expectations can sometimes be inaccurate, as wrong stereotyping classification was made during first meeting between the employer and employee.

4. Pygmalion Effect and Galatea Effect

There are two types of self-fulfilling prophecy, called the Pygmalion effect (if a supervisor thinks her subordinates will succeed, they are more likely to succeed) and the Galatea effect (if a person thinks he will succeed, he is more likely to succeed) (Rowe, 2012).

Expectations can play a role in determining its end result. * When a person is guided by positive expectations, the individual will be encouraged to perform well to his expectations. * When a person is guided by negative expectations, the higher the chance of the individual becoming unsuccessful (Madon, 1997).

Case Study 1
The First Pygmalion Experiments in Industry (Eden, 1992).

King designated four pressers, five welders, and five mechanics as high aptitude personnel (HAP). The instructors expect a higher-calibre performance from these individuals. In reality, the HAPs had been chosen at random. After close examinations and test, the HAPs obtained higher test scores, higher supervisor and peer ratings, shorter learning times, and had lower dropout rates, indicating the Pygmalion effect.

The Pygmalion effect is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby raising superior expectations regarding the performance of a subordinate encourages better performance.

The Pygmalion effect proves that it is possible to utilise someone’s potential by raising your expectations of the individual. By providing constant feedback and performance appraisals, this allows constant learning and growth, thus performing more effectively and efficiently (Eden, 1992).

The Pygmalion effect shows that people respond according to the expectations of the superior.
Ways to achieve maximum efficiency in organisation:

1) Set high expectations for them - gives added boost of motivation to achieve expectations set for them 2) Cultivate a ‘winning culture’ in the organisation 3) Constant motivation for the employees 4) Regular constructive feedback and set clear of goals for each employee (Loftus, 1992).

With the right business culture, the higher the chances of an organisation being successful. Managers should set high standards for the company. Encouraging all employees, achieving the best out of them (Markin & Lillis, 1975) Organisation can gain (1) Improved overall atmosphere (2) Improved morale and attitudes in employees (3) Work becomes more pleasant and less aversive (4) Improved customer reactions and satisfactions (5) Lower turnover rate (6) Fewer employee complaints

Case Study 2
Galatea Effect in the classroom (Rowe, 2002).

At the beginning of each semester, a teacher had his students read about agency and transaction cost theories. These theories and their assumptions were discussed in class. After the discussion, students were told that they would get a chance to do a closed book, take-home 3 hour exam for their midterm examination. The students were given their exam papers before the mid term break. The students were trusted to do their exam without any help of materials and at the end of the 3 hours, they are to seal the exam in the envelope and return it during the first class after the mid term break.

A student was experiencing a Galatea effect as her expectation for improved performance was increasing due to the teachers’ trust in her and her classmates.

A related self-fulfilling prophecy is the Galatea effect. The Galatea effect means that the individual’s opinion about his/her own ability and self-expectations largely determine his/her performance (Rowe, 2002).

If an organisation is able to cultivate positive self-expectations and boost self-efficacy in its employees, maximum efficiency can be achieved.

Ways on how to instil positivity in the organisation

(1) Provide opportunities for employees to experience increasingly challenging assignments. Make sure they succeed at each level before moving forward (2) Enable the employee to participate in potentially successful projects that bring continuous improvement to the workplace (3) Provide one-to-one coaching with the employee. This coaching should emphasise improving what the employee does well rather than focusing on the employee’s weaknesses. (4) Provide developmental opportunities that reflect what the employee is interested in learning (5) Hold frequent, positive verbal interactions with the employee and communicate consistently your firm belief in the employee’s ability to perform the job. Keep feedback positive and developmental where possible. (6) Managers must project sincere commitment to the employee’s success and ongoing development (Eden, 1991)

Harness the power of the employee’s self-expectations to ensure powerful, productive, improving, successful work performance.

5. Prevention of Stereotypes and Discrimination

Stereotypes are defined as assigning traits to people on the basis of a particular group or class of people (McCrea, 2012).

Stereotypes are usually simple, overgeneralised and widely accepted. It is developed on assumptions without any evidence. Stereotypes concerns highly visible and distinctive characteristics and traits; for example, race, age, sex. These information are usually first noticed during the first meeting between the employer and employee (McCrea, 2012).

Stereotypes can create conditions that lead to their own confirmation through self-fulfilling prophecy. Expectations along with stereotyping ultimately gives them confirmation about their beliefs.

Effects of stereotyping
When individuals are expected to perform poorly because of their race, age, sex or any other ascribed characteristics not related to actual competence, a Golem effect is likely. Golem effect refers to lower expectations placed upon an individual by a superior leads to poorer performance by the individual.

Leads to: * Decreased performance * Low morale * Disengagement (Distancing the self)

Not all stereotypes are negative. Positive stereotypes should not be discouraged. Belonging to a minority group that is stereotyped as industrious or intelligent can be beneficial to an individual and help make them more productive.

* Stereotyping and discrimination may be reduced by reducing competition and establishing cooperative situations * Educating all employees about stereotyping and its effects * Value each employee equally * Value-Affirmations to reduce stress and threat * Common goals foster cooperation and a desire to work together to achieve these goals

7. Conclusion

Self-fulfilling prophecies have been shown to be a process whereby beliefs held by one person about another often appear to come true. The process by which these beliefs come true has been demonstrated and mentioned on the topic ‘Applications of the Self-fulfilling Prophecies’ of a 4 stage model.

The process of forming beliefs is often determined by social identity. The beliefs formed are learned from other group members and are designed to enhance the status of the group and to lower the status of other groups. Stereotypes, being generalisations about other groups are often false. However, because they are believed the process of self-fulfilling prophecy can make them come true. Consequently, beliefs are confirmed and pernicious stereotypes may be perpetuated.

Prevention of the negative effects of self-fulfilling prophecy includes * Equality in all employees regardless of gender, race, religion, social background * Employers’s cognitive processes may be altered through training to reduce the effects of biases which lead to stereotypes. * Status and power within the organisation needs to be equalised to reduce stereotyping * Frequent communication and constructive feedback to build self-confidence of employees * Ensure employees have clear set goals and they achieve them with close guidance * Apply optimistic mindset to employees working in the organisation (McNatt & Judge, 2004).

The best outcome is to be able to inculcate positive beliefs whose self-fulfilling prophecies enhances the employees in the organisation (McNatt & Judge, 2004).

Annotated Bibliography

(Case Study 1)
Eden, D. (1992). Leadership and expectations: Pygmalion effects and other self-fulfilling prophecies in organizations. The Leadership Quarterly, (4), 271-305.

The authors, researchers at the Tel Aviv University, use data from participants chosen as high aptitude personals to test their hypothesis if high expectation given to the HAPs will result in better performance. It has been concluded that high expectations leads to boosted performance. By fostering a high-expectation culture within an organisation, setting challenging goals and objectives, there is a higher chance of achieving an effective Pygmalion.

(Case Study 2)
Rowe, W. Glenn. (2002). The Role of Golem, Pygmalion, and Galatea Effects on Opportunistic Behaviour in the Classroom. Journal of Management Education, (6), 612-28.

The authors, researchers at the University of Western Ontario, use data from students in a classroom to test their hypothesis to see if it is best to encourage students to trust or to engage in opportunistic behaviour. It has been concluded that trust is key to building high self-efficacy, as such managers should educate students to Pygmalion, Galatea, and Golem effects to safeguard against it. Constant motivation of employees is important as it builds positivity and boost self-efficacy to achieve maximum efficiency.

Eden, D. (1991). Modeling Galatea: Boosting Self-Efficacy to Increase Volunteering. Journal of Applied Psychology, (6), 770-780.

The authors, researchers at the Tel Aviv University, use data from a group of qualified candidates to test their hypothesis on whether boosting self-efficacy will result in an increase in volunteering, motivation, and performance. Their hypothesis confirms that pygmalion effect can be produced in groups of subordinates. In their findings, it is more effective to raise manager’s expectations towards the whole organisation rather than just certain sectors, and raising subordinate’s self-efficacy with frequent communication and constructive feedback can influence the level of subordinate’s performance and their motivation to perform.

Reference List

Eden, D. (1991). Modeling Galatea: Boosting Self-Efficacy to Increase Volunteering. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76(6), 770-780. Retrieved from Business source complete.

Eden, D. (1992). Leadership and expectations: Pygmalion effects and other self-fulfilling prophecies in organizations. The Leadership Quarterly, 3(4), 271-305. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.

Loftus, Paul. (1992). The Pygmalion effect. (self-fulfilling prophecy). Canadian Banker, 99(5), 34. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Madon, S. (1997). In Search of the Powerful Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(4), 791-809. Retrieved from OvidSP.

Markin, R., & Lillies, C. M. (1975). Sales managers get what they expect. Business Horizons, 18(3), 51-58. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.

McNatt, D., & Judge, T. A. (2004). Boundary Conditions of the Galatea Effect: A Field Experiment and Constructive Replication. The Academy of Management Journal, 47(4), 550-565. Retrieved from EBSO host.

McShane, S., Olekalns, M., & Travaglione, T. (2012), Organisational behaviour: Emerging knowledge, global insights (4th ed.). North Ryde, Australia: McGraw- Hill.

Rowe, W. Glenn. (2002). The Role of Golem, Pygmalion, and Galatea Effects on Opportunistic Behavior in the Classroom. Journal of Management Education, 26(6), 612-28. Retrieved from ProQuest.

McCrea, S. (2012). Construal Level Mind-Sets Moderate Self- and Social Stereotyping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(1), 51-68. Retrieved from OvidSP.

Research Plan Timeline

Date | Time | Method of Research | Source(s) | Learning points/ Main ideas | 8/8/2014 | 2 - 3pm | Onesearch (Pygmalion effects and other self-fulfilling prophecies in organizations) | Eden, D. (1992). Leadership and expectations: Pygmalion effects and other self-fulfilling prophecies in organizations. The Leadership Quarterly, (4), 271-305. | * Expectations can play a role in determining end result * Raising expectations of your subordinate can encourage better performance * Provide frequent feedback and encouragement > constant learning and growth * Steps and effects of having an effective Pygmalion | 16/08/2014 | 4 - 5pm | Onesearch(The role of Golem, Pygmalion, and Galatea effects) | Rowe, W. Glenn. (2002). The Role of Golem, Pygmalion, and Galatea Effects on Opportunistic Behavior in the Classroom. Journal of Management Education, (6), 612-28. | * It is important to trust the people that you work with * Trusting your subordinates can encourage Galatea effect | 17/8/2014 | 3 - 5pm | Onesearch(The Pygmalion effect) | Thomas, D. L. (1996). The self-fulfilling prophecy: Better management through magic. Trust & Estates, 135(11), 20. | * Encouragement is very important to a person and how they feel about themselves * The more you encourage, the more the individual can grow | 18/8/2014 | 7 - 8pm | Onesearch(Boosting Self-Efficacy to increase volunteering) | Eden, D. (1991). Modeling Galatea: Boosting Self-Efficacy to Increase Volunteering. Journal of Applied Psychology, (6), 770-780. | * Galatea effect provides a boost in performance as self-expectations of workers are raised * Pygmalion can be produced and is more effective in a larger audience * Verbal persuasion can effect the level of subordinate’s performance and motivation to perform | 18/8/2014 | 9 -10pm | Onesearch(Boundary conditions of the Galatea effect) | McNatt, D. (2004). Boundary Conditions of the Galatea Effect: A Field Experiment and Constructive Replication. The Academy of Management Journal, (4), 550-565. | * Self-fulfilling prophecies have great potential benefits for the organisation * Managers alone may not be able to effectively produce Galatea effects * People with high self-efficacy had higher job performance |

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...that society may be deemed as unequal. There is however many different ways as to how why and how a person may be treated less favourably than other people. Within society, an aspect of inequality is labelling. Labelling is process where someone holds a certain belief over another individual. Within sociology labelling is a way of controlling the behaviour of an individual. For example, in a school a teacher may label a student as a failure if the student is someone who cannot complete their homework due to other commitments or not having the facility to do so. Due to the label that the teacher has against the student, the attitude that the teacher will show the student would lead the student to failure. This is self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-fulfilling prophecy that the individual, who has been labelled, adapts their attitude and follows the attitude of the label. When a positive label is associated to an individual such as ‘she is an overachiever’ this is known as the Halo effect. Stereotyping is another form of inequality within society. Stereotyping and labelling are quite similar, however stereotyping is generally against a group of people and is usually untrue. Stereotyping in society usually comes from sources which are myths and are only in place as that is what people want society to believe. For example a stereotype that is quite regularly portrayed within the media is that “All gay men are feminine.” For example on Modern Family with...

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...The self-fulfilling prophecy generally means that how other people view you can have an effect on what you think about yourself. There are several causes of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which leads to two main effects on the British education system. There are many causes accounting for the self-fulfilling prophecy. Teachers’ labeling on students can be one reason for self-fulfilling prophecy. This means that if teachers label students into bright and slow due to their academic performance, students will be treated into different ways. Family background also may cause self-fulfilling prophecy. This is because some teachers seem to take into account things like dress, behavior and ways of speaking. So if students who are come from middle-class family can share same values and norms with teacher, they are more likely be seen as bright. However, if student come from working-class family and their standards of values are different with teachers’, they will be victims of self-fulfilling prophecy. The self-fulfilling prophecy can have bad influence on both academic development and mental health. Such labels and bias can affect student’s view about the may act in accordance with the label and bias attached. For those who are viewed as high achievement, teacher will pay more attention to them in class and believe them can success in future and so these students can become more confident and work hard to keep up high expectations, so it is easy for the to achieve academic...

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