The Pygmalion Effect as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy


One of the most well-researched areas where the Pygmalion effect is manifested is education. It has been found that students achieve academic results consistent with their teachers’ expectations (Szumski and Karwowski 4). If a teacher has high expectations, the student performs much better compared to the one who receives negative feedback and the corresponding attitude from the teacher. Importantly, the age of a learner is irrelevant as the Pygmalion effect is apparent in K-12 and adult education settings (Cobos-Sanchiz et al. 8). It is also noteworthy that the self-fulfilling prophecy influences the behaviors of individuals as well as groups of people. Szumski and Karwowski found that the teacher’s positive attitude, encouragement, and high expectations led to the entire class’s better performance (9). Therefore, educators employ this effect in their teaching practice to help their students achieve higher academic outcomes; the Pygmalion effect can be found in areas other than education, such as business, for example.

Main body

In the business environment, the self-fulfilling prophecy influences employees’ behaviors and, as a result, the entire organization’s behavior. Leadership plays a vital role in this process, as the leader’s attitude may define the organization’s success, especially during a time of change. Martínez-Sanchis et al. explored the peculiarities of the Pygmalion effect in intra-family succession in business (916). The researchers reported that the self-fulfilling prophecy played an important role as the new leader managed to perform better if he was supported by a family that had high expectations. In case of low expectations, poorer results were apparent regarding businesses’ performance. Cobos-Sanchiz et al. also state that employees need extrinsic motivation and encouragement in order to perform better and develop intrinsic motivation and higher self-esteem (8). In addition to the business sphere, the Pygmalion effect is also apparent in larger contexts.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is an influential factor affecting people’s behavior in communities. For example, the findings of the study by Pérez-Maldonado et al., who explored the Pygmalion effect within communities, suggest that positive expectations are beneficial at a community level (60). Larger groups are also influenced by the positive attitude of leaders and benefit from their high expectations ad the corresponding behavior. Importantly, the COVID-related challenges made many people vulnerable, but the Pygmalion effect has proved to be instrumental in shaping patient outcomes. On a group level, a positive attitude and high expectations revealed by the healthcare staff have had positive effects on different groups of patients (Zhang et al. 520). Hence, it is clear that the self-fulfilling prophecy is manifested in diverse areas and on different levels.


In conclusion, it is necessary to state that the Pygmalion effect is manifested in various areas of people’s lives, including education, business, and society. When leaders have high expectations, their followers tend to perform better due to enhanced motivation and increased self-esteem. Students, employees, as well as communities can benefit from this attitude, so leaders on different levels should consider utilizing the Pygmalion effect. It is critical to ensure support and encouragement, as well as empowerment, which will lead to higher achievements. This attitude can be needed explicitly during times of change or such challenges as pandemics. When people encounter such issues, they need enhanced support and motivation to address the problems effectively. Thus, the self-fulfilling prophecy is an essential factor for leaders to have in mind and utilize in their leadership.

Works Cited

Cobos-Sanchiz, David et al. “Positive Adult Education, Learned Helplessness and the Pygmalion Effect.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 19, no. 2, 2022, pp. 1-13.

Martínez-Sanchis, Paula, et al. “How the Pygmalion Effect Operates in Intra-Family Succession: Shared Expectations in Family SMEs.” European Management Journal, vol. 38, no. 6, 2020, pp. 914-926.

Pérez-Maldonado, Mónica Mendirichaga, et al. “Blurring Northeast Mexican Societies: An Approach to Cultural Capital and Results of the PISA Test.” Research in Computing Science, vol. 148, no. 6, 2019, pp. 51-62.

Szumski, Grzegorz, and Maciej Karwowski. “Exploring the Pygmalion Effect: The Role of Teacher Expectations, Academic Self-Concept, and Class Context in Students’ Math Achievement.” Contemporary Educational Psychology, vol. 59, 2019, pp. 1-38.

Zhang, Sisi et al. “The Psychological Nursing Interventions Based on Pygmalion Effect Could Alleviate Negative Emotions of Patients with Suspected COVID-19 Patients: A Retrospective Analysis.” International Journal of General Medicine, vol. 15, 2022, pp. 513-522.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023, April 3). The Pygmalion Effect as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Retrieved from


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PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'The Pygmalion Effect as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy'. 3 April.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "The Pygmalion Effect as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy." April 3, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "The Pygmalion Effect as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy." April 3, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "The Pygmalion Effect as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy." April 3, 2023.