Living up to 'expectations' and the Pygmalion effect

Dec 29, 2010 7:52:00 AM / by Vu Long Tran

Each of us have had expectations put forward on us at some point of our lives, and sometimes we feel as though we have been expected to undertake some of the most challenging feats of our lives.

Yet amongst it all, we generally don't realise the effect that these expectations can have of us. For example, back in your high school years, if you weren't expected to get high marks, than would you have achieved some (or all) of those high marks you achieved? If you weren't expected to finish high school, would you have finished anyway? These are some of the questions that can be asked to determine how motivated you were to actually learn and socialise rather than simply undertaking activities as it was expected of you. Would you simply complete the task and leave it at that? Or would you go above and beyond the task at hand? Would you achieve the latter if you felt as though you had potential to do more?

The Pygmalion effect 

Well, recently I came across this interesting concept called the 'Pygmalion effect' that discusses the effect that expectations can have on people. Basically it desires some of the possible effects of 'expectations' and can give you insight into why you find people behaving the way they do and what drives them to go that one step further.

The Pygmalion effect is when people tend to live up what is expected of them and they to do better, when treated as though they're capable of more.

So when someone expects you to finish just high school, you'll finish it, yet if they have encouraged you and made you feel like you can do more than that, then you'll not only finish high school but you'll complete it with flying colours, perhaps even going the step further and seek to undertake the next challenge - going to university.

That is in essence, the effect of the Pygmalion effect.

The Pygmalion effect and expectations around us

Expectations fall upon us not only from others around us but from ourselves, and sometimes that is the hardest expectation to overcome of all. Yet realising how expectations can affect us so hopefully helps you to understand how to set realistic expectations on oneself. If you've ever done goal setting before than that is simply a form of setting expectations on oneself, and one of the suggestions they give when setting goals is to make sure that it is realistic and that you feel like you can achieve the task. So if we can manage our self expectations of ourselves, we can improve our self confidence. 

If we believe we can succeed and contribute, than our own thoughts rise to allow us to bring us to reach our goals and encourage ourselves to exceed them...
Vu Long Tran

Written by Vu Long Tran

Solutions Engineer APAC @pymetrics . ex-@Forrester consultant. Tweeting on #cloud, #cybersecurity, #equality and #tech tinkering!

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