A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a person unknowingly causes a prediction to come true, due to the simple fact that he or she expects it to come true. This is because our expectations towards circumstances, people or events will directly affect how we react towards them. And more often than not it will result in behaviors that will fulfill these expectations. For better or worse.
In the podcast episode “How to become batman“, the hosts explore the impact expectations have on people’s abilities. For example students perform better on tests when the teachers have higher expectations of them. This phenomenon was also observed when students believed their rats were “brighter”, the rats did better!
In one study (Rosenthal & Fode, 1963), psychology students in a learning and conditioning course unknowingly became subjects themselves. Some of the students were told they would be working with rats that had been specially bred for high intelligence, as measured by their ability to learn mazes quickly.The rest of the students were told that they would be working with rats bred for dullness in learning mazes. The students then proceeded to condition their rats to perform various skills, including maze learning. The students who had been assigned the maze-bright rats reported significantly faster learning times than those reported by the students with the maze-dull rats.
The podcast goes on to discuss very interesting questions such as: Are the handicapped/disabled actually capable of much more but do not realise their true potential due to the low expectations and stereotypes society places on them? Are they slaves to society’s perceptions? Can you see without eyes? This podcast explores these questions with a feature on Daniel Kish, the Batman and how his work has impacted those who have came into contact with him.
How do we use self-fulfilling prophecies to our advantage? By faking it till you make it, so to speak. Be confident, not arrogant. And approach every new challenge with a positive mindset to avoid handicapping yourself from the get-go.