Influencing Reality – Lessons from Pygmalion

“How we believe the world is and what we honestly think it can become have powerful effects on how things turn out.”
– James Rhem, editor of national teaching and learning forum

The Pygmalion Effect: A Brief Overview

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The Pygmalion Effect is a theory on self-fulfilling prophecies based on a George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion, in which a professor makes a bet that he can teach a poor flower girl to speak and act like an upper-class lady and succeeds.

Essentially, the Pygmalion Effect proposes that enhanced expectations from others can cause enhanced performance from self. Likewise, negative expectations will also produce negative outcomes.

Can Reality really be influenced by expectations of others?

On a sub-conscious level, I say absolutely.

Look at social status, for example. Some people, whether it be due to race, financial status, et cetera, never succeed simply because they are not expected to. And others do well despite having the same variables, simply because others have maintained high expections.

Just think of all the goof-offs you knew in high school. Some who did poorly in school but are now serious money-making professionals. Now compare them to those that got good grades and are now going nowhere. Accident?

On the other end of the spectrum from academia, dating also show some serious hints of pygmalion. Notice the effect of benchmarks in time within relationships. If a couple makes it to a month, they’ll likely make it to six. And most of the couples I’ve known that make it 6 months will make it to two years. Anything past that and they’re usually in it for the long haul, barring a major life change.

Now as far as Pygmalion effects in the workplace, don’t even get me started on that. Let’s just say that I’ve seen both the positive and negative consequences, as I’m sure most of you have.

Lessons from Pygmalion

  • Associate yourself with positive people that believe in you. Those that don’t will inevidably bring you down.
  • Expect a lot of others. By doing so, you are helping them grow in life. No matter how much they bitch at you for your outlandish expectations.
  • Be wary of your effect on others. Give up on someone that looks to you for guidance and they will be likely to fail. Believe in the right person and you could help them make their dreams a reality.

That’s all I have for you ninjas. Now go out into the world and make it someone’s day. 🙂

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One Comment on “Influencing Reality – Lessons from Pygmalion”


  1. Hallalujah Praise Tha Lord!
    I loved this one! From the bottom of my heart thank you for inspiring me today!
    God wanted me to read this right now. For realz….

    Sincerest Thanks!


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