How Old Should You Be To Be A Flower Girl The Pygmalion Effect

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The Pygmalion Effect

The team does as well as you and the team think they can.

This idea is known as the “self-fulfilling prophecy”. When you believe that a team will do well, in some strange, magical way, it does. And likewise, if you believe they won’t perform well, they won’t.

There is ample experimental data to suggest that the self-fulfilling prophecy is true. One unusual experiment in 1911 involved a very clever horse named Hans. This horse was reputed to be able to add, multiply, subtract and divide by tapping out the answer with its hooves. The exceptional thing was that it was able to do this without the presence of a coach. All it took was for someone to ask the questions.

Upon investigation, it was found that when the interviewer knew the answer, he gave Hans various very subtle body language cues, such as raising his eyebrows or flaring his nostrils. Hans simply took hold of these clues and continued tapping until he reached the desired answer. The interviewer expected an answer and Hans obliged.

In a similar vein, an experiment was conducted at a British school with the performance of a new intake of pupils. At the start of the year, pupils were given ratings ranging from ‘excellent prospect’ to ‘unlikely to do well’. This was a completely arbitrary assessment and did not reflect how well pupils had performed previously. Nevertheless, these evaluations were given to the teachers. At the end of the year, the experimenters compared the students’ performance with the assessment. Despite their actual abilities, there was a surprisingly high correlation between performance and ratings. Humans seem to function as well as we expect them to.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is also known as the Pygmalion effect. It comes from a story by Ovid about Pygmalion, a sculptor and prince of Cyprus who created an ivory statue of his ideal woman. The result, which he named Galatea, was so beautiful that he immediately fell in love with it. He begged the goddess Aphrodite to breathe life into the statue and make it his own. Aphrodite granted Pygmalion his wish, the statue came to life and the couple married and lived happily ever after.

The story was also the basis of George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion”, later turned into the musical “My Fair Lady”. In Shaw’s play, Professor Henry Higgins claims he can take a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, and turn her into a duchess. But as Eliza herself points out to Higgins’ friend Pickering, whether she becomes a duchess is not determined by what she learns or does, but by how she is treated.

“You see, really and truly, apart from the things that anyone can pick up (dressing and the right way of speaking and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated. ” She will always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins because he always treats me like a flower girl and always will, but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me like a lady and you always will.

The implications of the Pygmalion effect for leaders and managers are enormous. It means that your team’s performance depends less on them than on you. The performance you get from people is no more or less than what you expect: which means you must always expect the best. As Goethe said, “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become what he can and should be.”

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