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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

  • By: Martha Boehlert
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

The principle of self-fulfilling prophecy states that a person will live up (or down) to others' expectations, predictions, or preconceived notions regarding his or her behavior. Positive expectations or predictions about behavior tend to lead to positive outcomes, whereas negative expectations or predictions tend to lead to negative outcomes. Simply put, expectations for behavior are likely to come true. As cited in Papalia and colleagues (2002), Rosenthal and Jacobson conducted a study on the self-fulfilling prophecy in a school setting. In this study, teachers were informed that certain students showed potential for extraordinary cognitive gains as measured by an intelligence test. Over the course of the year many of these children actually showed unusual gains. These students' behavior was related to the expectations set by ...

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