The Pygmalion effect refers to situations where teacher expectancies of student performance become self-fulfilling prophecies; students perform better or worse than other students based on the way their teacher expects them to perform.
This effect is named after George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion (1913), where a phonetics professor is successful in making a bet that he can teach a poor flower girl to act like an upper-class lady. The term Pygmalion originated in Greek legend with Pygmalion, the king of Cyprus, who was a sculptor. Pygmalion fell in love with a beautiful statue of his own creation, which subsequently came to life.
In psychology, the Pygmalion effect, as proposed by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson (1968), applies the ideas of Merton’s self-fulfilling prophecy (2) to education (1). Rosenthal and Jacobson’s landmark Oak School...
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- 4.Rosenthal, R. J., & Jacobson, L. (1972). Pygmalion in the classroom: Teacher expectation and pupils’ intellectual development. Williston, VT: Irvington Publishers.Google Scholar
- 5.Shaw, B. (1914, November). Pygmalion: A romance in five acts. Everybody’s Magazine, XXXI(5), 577–612.Google Scholar