Some years ago Harvard psychologist Robert Rosenthal...

Some years ago Harvard psychologist Robert Rosenthal ran an experiment that explored the impact teachers can have on their students' subsequent performance. In Dr. Rosenthal's study a group of teachers were informed that the "less gifted" students entering their classes were "more gifted," and vice versa. After a while the teachers' encouragement of the students they imagined were more intelligent began to have an effect: the students who had been labeled "more gifted" began to outscore their "less gifted" peers.

Dr. Rosenthal coined the term "the Pygmalion Effect" to describe this sudden flowering of pupils, previously considered low achievers, when they received encouragement and support from their teachers. As a result of Dr. Rosenthal's studies it is now widely recognized in education that our expectations about how others will perform may have at least as much of an impact on their subsequent achievement as any other single factor.

Second Thought
July 27, 1987

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