Pygmalion effect – Believe in yourself

Robert Rosenthal effect, also known as the Pygmalion effect, is the phenomenon whereby others’ expectations of a target person affect the target person’s performance.

In 1968, Robert Rosenthal, a famous American psychologist, went to a school to make a series of assessments for the students. He selected 3 students from each grade, and gave the list to their teacher and said, “After evaluation, these 18 students’ future is the most promising. But the list should be kept secret and should not be made known to students and parents.”

Eight months later, Rosenthal came back to the school again, and the 18 students made great strides in self-confidence, socializing, achievement and vivacity, and became the school’s benchmark. The teachers were admirable and said to Rosenthal, “You are really good and able to find every gifted child.” Rosenthal said, “No, I picked all 18 students randomly.” It turned out that he had told an authoritative lie.

pygmalion effect


Experiments have verified the resonant phenomenon of the desired psychology, that is to say, you believe what he is and he will become what you believe he is. Rosenthal was already a very famous expert at the time, so what he said, everyone believed it.

When the teachers believe that these children are particularly gifted, their unconscious language, behavior, and emotions affect the teacher’s attitude towards students and teaching, and finally, lead to the progress and growth of students in all aspects.

The J.E Brophy and T.L Goode teams repeated the Rosenthal experiment in 1972 and came up with similar results.

In the educational psychological mechanism, there are four elements that affect children’s learning:

1. Atmosphere: When the teacher has expectations for a student, he/she will inadvertently send out warmth and care, will give the student support during class.

2. Feedback: Give students appropriate guidance, direction, and praise individually.

3. Input: When teachers think these students are geniuses, they will carefully prepare suitable teaching materials, and also more willing to give students enlightening questions, let them think for themselves.

4. Encouragement: When teachers believe that their students can do it, they will constantly encourage their students. Finally, the students will also believe that they can do it.


The most representative stories of the Rosenthal Effect is:

The little boy took a letter home to his mother and said, ‘The teacher said, only you can read this letter. What is it in there?’

The mother cried while reading, and loudly read out the contents of the letter: “Your child is a genius, the school is not good enough for him, there is no good teacher can teach him, I hope you can cultivate him well.”

In the end, the boys only studied in the school for three months, and since then, he has relied on self-study and his mother’s teaching.

This little boy is the famous inventor, Edison.

Years later, when Edison was sorting out his mother’s belongings, he found the letter, which read: “There is a problem with your son’s mind, and we decided not to let him come to school.”

Edison was in a low mood after reading it, and wrote in his diary: Thomas Alva Edison is a child with a problem in his mind, but under his mother’s guidance, he became a genius of the world.

Similarly, a fool is a fool either he believes he is a fool or the people around him believe he is a fool.