Expectations Affect Outcome
Performance is often a result of self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who think they are capable of succeeding are often empowered to do so. Here’s some fascinating recent research on this topic:
Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford, gave a group of low-achieving seventh graders a seminar on how the brain works and put the students at random into two groups. The experimental group was told that learning changes the brain and that students are in charge of this process. The control group received a lesson on memory, but was not instructed to think of intelligence as malleable.
At the end of eight weeks, students who had been encouraged to view their intelligence as changeable scored significantly better (85 percent) than controls (54 percent) on a test of the material they learned in the seminar.
This is a breathtaking example of self-fulfilling prophecy and the “as if” principle in action. And there are many more. As we point out in our book Be Quiet, Be Heard, many studies have demonstrated that leaders’ expectations of employees have an impact on organizational effectiveness. Those who are treated as if they are capable of doing well, often do.
We want to hear. Do you perform better when you believe you are regarded as smart and capable? What do you do to make others feel this way? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.
11/24/2015 10:04:12 am
I do believe this is true. I know for me personally if I feel valued and appreciated I care more about doing my best and will achieve more.
11/24/2015 10:25:11 am
Thanks for this Joyce. We agree that the implications of making others feel valued and appreciated is vast. Appreciate the examples you shared regarding children and volunteers.
11/24/2015 04:15:24 pm
Last year I won 3 levels of Toastmaster Contest speaking. I was told by many folks to put an adaptation of the speech into a book. ME? ! Well I did it anyway, very nervous about the results. I believed I could do it and I did!!
11/25/2015 09:20:12 am
Love this!!! How cool to be honored in so many different ways! And so great that you can trace this success back to your belief that you could!
11/28/2015 12:33:24 pm
Every good school teacher understands this. Before any lecture or class, ask what the expectations of the class are. And then offer your understanding of what you want to accomplish. Often these are simply incompatible thus guaranteeing an unhappy class or audience.
11/30/2015 10:46:35 am
In all of our thinking about the impact of expectations on outcomes, we actually never thought about your point, Dick: How can we expect to manage expectations if we aren't clear about stating what they are? Thank you for this nuanced thinking on the topic.
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