Expectancy Effects


An expectancy effect occurs when an incorrect belief held by one person, the perceiver, about another person, the target, leads the perceiver to act in such a manner as to elicit the expected behavior from the target. For example, if Mary is told that a new coworker, John, was unfriendly, she may act in a more reserved manner around him, refrain from initiating conversations with him, and not include him in activities. John might then respond to Mary's standoffish behavior by similarly not initiating conversations or activities with her, thus confirming her expectancy that he is unfriendly. Expectancy effects are thus a subcategory of self-fulfilling prophecies that occur in an interpersonal context.


Self-fulfilling prophecies have long been noted and studied by social scientists. The bank ...

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