Pygmalion Effect


The Pygmalion effect is a definition that explains why people tend to perform at a higher level than others expect of them. This effect explains why our relationships are generally self-fulfilling prophecies. Once expectations are set for a person, that person will tend to live up to that expectation , be it good or bad. The Pygmalion effect does not justify having unrealistic expectations of other people and waiting for miracles to happen is a recipe for frustration on both ends. The paradox of the pygmeleon effect is that having high expectations of people will produce better results., but a series of disappointments are also more likely.


Pygmalion effect

The pygmalion effect is a term used to refer to a phenomenon in which the expectations and beliefs held by one person influence the performance of another that produce high performance or negatively affect performance.


What is the Pygmalion effect?

Individuals have a tendency to want to raise the level of the expectations of others towards them. In general , people tend to perform to the level that others expect them to. If you don’t expect much from the people you work with, there is probably no inspiration to perform or to push yourself to the limit of your abilities.


It consists of a series of expectations that one person has towards another resulting in an excellent and high performance in the last one , or how the low expectations that they have can also produce a negative effect affecting their performance . It is based on expectations and how they influence the behaviors and results that a person can provide in a given job.


The origin of the name of this Pygmalion effect is due to a mythological character , whose origins are recorded in Ancient Greece . According to this myth, Pygmalion was a monarch who, unable to find the ideal woman to marry, decided to create a series of sculptures that would allow him to replace the presence of a woman as a life partner.

The story tells us that Pygmalion was deeply in love with one of his creations, which had given him the name of Galatea . The goddess Aphrodite felt compassion for Pygmalion’s wish and was moved by it and for this reason she gave life to the sculpture, transforming Galatea into a human being . For this reason the Pygmalion effect was given this name since it managed to overcome what he expected of himself and when he believed that the statue had life, it actually came to be.


There are two different types of this effect which are:

  • Positive pygmalion effect : this type of effect refers to the one that has the ability to produce a positive effect on the person, making them gain greater confidence in the subject on which the effect occurs, causing an increase in the subject’s self – esteem. .
  • Negative pygmalion effect : in the negative pygmalion effect there is a decrease in that of the person and causes the aspect on which it is acted to diminish or even disappear .

Pygmalion effect in education

The Pygmalion effect applied to the school environment explains to us how the expectations that a teacher may have about the student can condition their behavior towards them and affect their academic evolution . When we apply this effect in the classroom, an environment of closeness can be generated between teachers and students, allowing emotions to be transmitted, a greater amount of positive reinforcement is given on students, making them able to obtain better results .

There is also the possibility that more content can be taught as students feel more positive and eager to learn and students tend to accept the demands of their teachers, participation in class increases considerably, there are more questions and more answers.

The pygmalion effect has benefits in terms of student performance , but you must also have consistency and realistic expectations about performance. The type of language must be taken care of when applying this effect as reproachful comments could cause a negative effect .

Pygmalion effect in companies

This effect is of utmost importance when we talk about the productivity of companies. When the employee receives the continuous acceptance of his boss, there is a high possibility that the employee will show a high performance in his activities and functions, as his self-esteem rises. Otherwise, when their abilities and functions are always criticized , it produces an indifferent attitude and demotivation on the part of the subordinate, which will cause a decrease in the quality of work, since their self-esteem is affected.


The family is an example of the pygmalion effect since it is a great influence mainly on children, which creates more or less direct expectations about children in any area of ​​their lives that can put pressure on them.

We also find this effect when we try to make a friend not give up in a certain adverse situation and we try to instill in them the idea that we trust them to raise their self-esteem because they can achieve it.

Leave a Comment