I've been reading about the Pygmalion effect. From what extracted, it means positive expectations positively influence performance.

Now I'm curious to know this... does the Pygmalion effect also apply to negative expectations in addition to positive expectations?

  • $\begingroup$ Pygmalion effect is one of two forms of "self-fulfilling prophecy", and it refers to positive expectations (as you already know). The equivalent in negative would be Oedipus effect (not to be confused with Oedipus complex). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 14:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The Pygmalion effect failed to replicate in multiple meta-analyses - ie, it does not apply to positive expectations either: "This review has also critically evaluated the evidence regarding the relative power of positive versus negative expectancy effects. ... this review’s documentation of the paucity of evidence on this issue, and its contradictory results, is a particularly important contribution." $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg I'm reading that article now and it seems to say the opposite: On page 135-36 it says that Rosenthal produced a 30% replication rate. That's greater than 5, isn't it? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ @IsaacD.Cohen Personally, I don't know why one would stop at Rosenthal's results, and not continue to read the rest of the article. If the original author (Rosenthal) had a 30% replication rate, and subsequent attempts had lower success, such that the overall result is weak at best, then I might be more dismissive of it. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Overall one can't deny the influence of expectations.

After reading more about the matter, I'd say that Pygmalion effect (or Rosenthal effect) only speaks of positive expectations others might have on us, so it doesn't apply to

  • negative expectations.
  • expectations we have for ourselves.

For the negative expectations there's the Golem effect and according to Wikipedia it is

a psychological phenomenon in which lower expectations placed upon individuals either by supervisors or the individual themselves lead to poorer performance by the individual.

In this case it's irrelevant who has the expectations (if they come from outside or from ourselves). Also, from Babad, E. Y.; Inbar, J.; Rosenthal, R. (1982), "Pygmalion, Galatea, and the Golem: Investigations of biased and unbiased teachers", the effect

represents the concerns of social scientists and educators, which are focused on the negative effects of self-fulfilling prophecies

Notice that the German-born American psychologist Robert Rosenthal is behind both of these effects.

Then, and according to Psychologinie, there's the Galatea effect which is

a phenomenon where people's own opinions about their ability and self-worth influence their performance.

The following image (also from the same website) pretty much describes the difference between Galatea and Pygmalion effects

enter image description here


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