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Interpersonal Expectancy Effect

 

Explanations > Theories > Interpersonal Expectancy Effect

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

The way we act towards others depends on how we perceive them and hence predict how they will behave. The way they behave is then impacted by our expectation of them as they act to fulfill this expectation and so a self-fulfilling prophecy is created.

As a part of this process we expect and look for particular attributes and behaviors in the other person and ignore those factor which we do not expect. This helps confirm our suspicions. It also downplays the importance of these behaviors for the target person.

This is also known as the 'Pygmalion Effect', after the book by George Bernard Shaw.

A related effect is the Galatea Effect, whereby we meet the expectations (high or low) we place upon ourselves.

Research

Rosenthal and Jacobson told teachers that random students were 'late bloomers' and would soon show a marked improvement in their performance. These children did improve, because of the expectancy that had been created in the teachers and their subsequent change in behavior towards these students.

Example

A manager tells subordinate that they are good at analysis but bad at interpersonal influence. The person's analysis results improve but their relationships with others deteriorates.

So What?

Using it

To get someone to behave in a certain way, first believe that they are capable of doing this and then communicate your expectation to the other person.

Defending

When people expect you to fail, reject this and set your own expectations.

See also

Social Facilitation, Confirmation Bias

References

Rosenthal and Jacobson (1992)

 

 

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