Prophecies in Organizations
Tel Aviv University
The Pygmalion effect is a special case of self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP; Merton, 1948) in which raising leader expectations regarding subordinate achievement produces an improvement in performance. Inspired by earlier research on the experimenter effect (Rosenthal, 1966), Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) were the first to demonstrate the Pygmalion effect experimentally in the classroom. There has been some argument that teachers' naturally occurring expectations are usually realistic and that the Pygmalion effect is often small and practically unimportant (Jussim, 1991; Jussim & Eccles, 1995; see also Madon, Jussim, & Eccles, 1997, and Smith et al., 1998). Nevertheless, the Pygmalion effect is well established in educational psychology as confirmatory meta-analytic results accrue (Babad, 1993; Dusek, Hall, & Meyer, 1985; Harris & Rosenthal, 1985; Rosenthal, 1985, 1991a, 1991b; Rosenthal & Rubin, 1978). Moreover, organizational researchers have been accumulating field experimental support for the Pygmalion approach among adults in nonschool organizations (for reviews, see Eden, 1990a, 1993a, 1993b; Kierein & Gold, 2000; McNatt, 2000; White & Locke, 2000).
King (1971) launched adult Pygmalion research. He was the first to publish an experimental replication of the Pygmalion effect among adults in a