The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy: Making Your Expectations Come True

You can give yourself more pain when you expect it

The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy is also known as the “Pygmalion Effect,” which goes in a circle that looks something like this:

  1. I have a belief about myself.
  2. That belief influences my actions towards others.
  3. This has an impact on the beliefs that others have about me.
  4. As a result, this impact causes others to behave in ways towards me that is consistent with my self-belief.
  5. When this happens, my belief is reinforced
  6. Or you believe you always get sick for 3 days.
  7. Your body believes what you believe and is sick for 3 days.
  8. This continues in an endless cycle.Self-Fulfilling Prophesy slide
Fulfilled Expectations

In other words, I have a belief about myself and have an expectation that it will be fulfilled. Clearly, the self-fulfilling prophesy always involves yourself or two or more people. There is always what the self-believes and then convinces your body to react. Therefore, the mind-body connection is at work or there is another person or many other persons reacting to the self.

For example, a person could believe he was always going to be in pain. He believed in his pain and thus convinced everyone that he was in terrible pain. It is then that he embarked on an endless cycle of pain and made all the people around him miserable too. Yet when his doctor angered him by telling him he would never get better, he decided to prove everyone wrong and, in the process, proved to himself that he was going to get better. His pain ended.

Proving your Belief

Here is an example of how this works:

“Let’s say, for example, that I’m going to an event where I don’t know many people. If I believe I don’t make a good first impression, or I worry that nobody will talk to me, I will probably enter the event acting awkward, anxious, and standoffish. In turn, people are likely to interact with me with less enthusiasm, or they may ignore or shun me. This only reinforces my belief that I’m not good with people I don’t know.”

Here is another example of how our expectations influence the beliefs and behaviors of others:

“This self-fulfilling prophecy concept has been verified by many experiments and observations, and if we look at our own lives we can often see it happening in our lives in various situations. For example, parents who believe that their children will not do well in school tend to make it come true by reducing the emphasis on the importance of school work to their children and accepting poor grades from them. On the other hand, parents who believe their children can excel in school will create a home environment suitable for promoting reading and knowledge, emphasize the importance of school work and generally will not tolerate poor grade from their kids. All these will eventually propel their children to excel in school.”

Notice and change

Be careful of your own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Your expectation of yourself can be made by you to come true.Self-Fulfilling Prophesy exit

Decide to let go of your belief. Exit the cycle.









Church J. Perceptions versus interpretations, and domains for self-fulfilling prophesies. Behav Brain Sci. 2017 Jan;40:e5. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X15002320. PMID: 28327215.


Jussim L. Accuracy, bias, self-fulfilling prophecies, and scientific self-correction. Behav Brain Sci. 2017 Jan;40:e18. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X16000339. PMID: 28327222.


Jussim L, Harber KD. Teacher expectations and self-fulfilling prophecies: knowns and unknowns, resolved and unresolved controversies. Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2005;9(2):131-55. doi: 10.1207/s15327957pspr0902_3. PMID: 15869379.


Jussim L. Précis of Social Perception and Social Reality: Why accuracy dominates bias and self-fulfilling prophecy. Behav Brain Sci. 2017 Jan;40:e1. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X1500062X. Epub 2015 Jun 16. PMID: 26079679.


Mousavi S, Funder DC. Accurate perceptions do not need complete information to reflect reality. Behav Brain Sci. 2017 Jan;40:e12. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X15002393. PMID: 28327225.


Raudenbush, S. W. (1984). Magnitude of teacher expectancy effects on pupil IQ as a function of the credibility of expectancy induction: A synthesis of findings from 18 experiments. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(1), 85–97.

Smith AE, Jussim L, Eccles J. Do self-fulfilling prophecies accumulate, dissipate, or remain stable over time? J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Sep;77(3):548-65. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.77.3.548. PMID: 10510508.


If you like it, please share it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *