The Pygmalion Effect

By Anthony Gold

Researchers conducted IQ tests on all students in an elementary school. At the conclusion of the test, the teachers were told that a handful of students across various grades were much more advanced than their peers. The students, however, were not informed of the results.

The researchers wanted to come back and study how those special students progressed over the year, particularly compared to the rest of the “average” students.

The teachers were instructed not to change their teaching style nor to give any preferential treatment to the “gifted” students. And to be sure that was the case, the teachers were told they’d be monitored to ensure none of their teaching methods and student interactions had changed.

At the end of the year, the same IQ test was given to all students.

No surprise, the advanced students showed off-the-chart abilities. In fact, the difference between them and the rest of the students increased even further. These students were truly something extraordinary.

Except they weren’t.

The researchers fooled the teachers.

At the end of the first IQ test, the students that the researchers had singled out as “advanced” really were not. They were simply average, ordinary students with IQs in the same range as the rest of their peers.

But the 2nd IQ test really did show that those particular students were indeed showing spectacular results.

So, how did average students become astounding when nothing had changed? Remember, the teachers didn’t pay any more (or less) attention to these students than the others.

The answer is this: belief.

The teacher’s belief that these students were exceptional had been unconsciously communicated to the students. And these nonverbal messages were accepted by the students and transformed into reality.

Nothing but the teacher’s belief that these students were amazing led to average students becoming amazing. Over the course of one school year!

This phenomenon is known as the Pygmalion Effect after the Greek sculptor, Pygmalion, whose belief and love in one of his statues led to some remarkable effects.

Now consider the beliefs we hold about others. How much does our belief in their capabilities affect their performance?

Now think about the beliefs we hold about ourselves.

Are those beliefs empowering, or self-limiting?

As the Buddha wisely noted:

Our unguarded thoughts about ourselves are our own worst enemy.

We consistently hold ourselves back and derail our progress through self-limiting beliefs.

But we don’t need to continue such obstruction.

Once we recognize that we are doing this to ourselves, we can choose a different mindset that leads to radically different results – including much greater peace and much faster growth.

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the power of the Pygmalion Effect, and how we can use that to dramatically improve our wellbeing. I look forward to seeing you then.

4 thoughts on “The Pygmalion Effect

  1. Reviewing my notes from last nights class, I will make a special effort to practice what I learned below:

    If someone is crying out, express gratitude. Our brother is our mirror. We all have same need, choose HS. All our strain comes from ego thought system.

    1. Thank you for the comment Barb. So well said regarding our brother as our mirror.

      The key to responding with gratitude is to first look within and choose the “teacher of love”. Otherwise, while good-intentioned, our words will simply perpetuate (and reinforce) the ego’s mantra: we’re separate, and “I” am sending “you” love. When we truly tap into the holy spirit mind, there is no “me” expressing gratitude, rather, we become a channel for love and gratitude flows through us in whatever form is most helpful for all involved.

      1. Thank-you Anthony.

        I have so habituated choosing the ego I sometimes forget that the ego isn’t real, that I chose it and the feeling it creates and that the moment I remember to.go within, the ego is gone and I become a channel for love and gratitude flows through me in whatever form is most helpful for me and all.

        The lesson that expressing sadness over someone’s sadness reinforces it and learning that sadness is empathy to destroy sums it up for me.

        My response is to choose the Holy Spirit, become a channel for love and know that gratitude will flow through me in the form that will be the most helpful for all.

        I also know that since I have habituated ego thinking I can therefore habituate choosing the HS and abide in the HS instead of the mind matrix of the ego.

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