Pygmalion Theory • The idea that one's expectations about a person can eventually lead that person to behave and achieve in ways that confirm those expectations.
Requirements • First hand exposure to the student. • Knowledge about the student’s reputation
First Impressions • 1. A teenager from a family that has strong and vocal Conservative Party ties; • 2. A significantly overweight teenage girl; • 3. A primary school student from a wealthy family who is an only child; • 4. A middle school student whose two older siblings you had in class several years ago--each of whom was often a troublemaker; • 5. An Asian boy who is the son of a respected university math professor; • 6. A good-looking, confident girl who has many friends and belongs to the student council;
Rosenthal and Jacobson's PYGMALION IN THE CLASSROOM (1968) • An experiment carried out in an elementary school (which the authors call Oak School) • Random Intelligence tests at beginning • Identified Bloomers • Retest in 8 months
Results • Before a teacher has seen a pupil deal with academic tasks he/she is likely to have some expectation for his or her behaviour. • Student labeling is often done on arbitrary and biased grounds. • Often, these negative expectations are based on appearances and other factors that have little to do with actual intellectual ability:
Questions for Discussion: • Has much changed in the perceptions of students since Rosenthal and Jacobson wrote their text 40 years ago? • What kind of class would you rather teach, academic or applied, university of workplace? • Can Pygmalion theory be racist? • How can we use Pygmalion theory positively?