A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when an originally false social belief leads people to act in ways that objectively confirm that belief.
Self-fulfilling prophecy is a three-stage process beginning with a person’s belief – false at the time it is held – that a certain event will occur in the future.26 Next, this expectation or “prophecy” leads to behavioral change that would not have occurred if it were not for this false expectation. Finally, the expected event occurs and the prophecy is fulfilled, as shown in Figure below
Self-fulfilling prophecy, also known as interpersonal expectancy effect, refers to the phenomenon whereby a person’s or a group’s expectation for the behavior of another person or group serves actually to bring about the prophesied or expected behavior. The history and diversity of this area of inquiry shows that the expectations of psychological researchers, classroom teachers, judges in the courtroom, business executives, and health care providers can unintentionally affect the responses of their research participants, pupils, jurors, employees, and patients. Meta-analytic procedures are used to evaluate the social importance of the magnitudes of the obtained effects.
The term self-fulfilling prophecies refers to the observation that sometimes our beliefs about others can lead us to treat them in such a way that they subsequently become what we expect them to be.
The self-fulfilling prophecy becomes a potential asset when people are labeled as having talents, strengths, abilities, and positive resources.
Just as clients who are labeled with disorders may come to internalize their negative labels, so too may clients come to internalize positive labels. Just as therapists may inadvertently change the way they treat a client based on the DSM diagnostic label applied, so too may a therapist change the way the client is treated based on the positive label applied. Such a process may serve to further enhance the labeled strengths, and as the client becomes more cognizant of his or her potential, the client may also become more interested in nurturing these talents and strengths, and more confident in utilizing these skills and positive resources in the pursuit of complete mental health.
We all seek to find evidence that validates our a priori beliefs or values, and may underestimate or ignore evidence that contradicts our expectations . Confirmatory bias occurs when a researcher develops a hypothesis or belief and uses respondents’ information to support that belief.
Cultural bias may be the outcome of assumptions or expectations regarding the motivations and values of test participants. Ethnocentrism is judging another culture according to the values and standards of one’s own culture. Cultural relativism concerns how an individual’s beliefs and behaviors would be perceived by others in terms of that individual’s own culture.
The concept of was introduced by Robert K. Merton. In his book, Social Theory and Social Structure, he defined it as the situations in which people’s expectations can alter realities in the expected direction because the target person acts in accordance with the expectations. Self-fulfilling prophecy highlights the importance of definition of situations: “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” This principle, however, works in many cases of subjective reality regarding human affairs, but not for natural affairs. Note that the definition of the situation does not have to be correct. Hence, a false definition of the situation may trigger a new behavior which can make the false definition become true.