β€œThe Traveller--Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost! Catatan Perjalanan.: The Pygmalion Effect at the Workplace

Catatan Perjalanan.

Sep 9, 2008

The Pygmalion Effect at the Workplace


If you tell a Teacher of Mathematics that his new pupils are smart and children of choice, automatically the teacher will become more motivated. In class, he or she will teach items more difficult than usual, give rather more complex practice, be more careful in teaching and replying to questions and also do other actions which support. The students who get greater attention and trust from their new teacher will learn more intensively and with more quality in class.

It's not a problem of whether in fact the pupils are bright or tardy. The essential thing in this phenomenon is that the trust of the teacher in the students' potential will at the end produce students that really have potential. This unique phenomenon in man, indicating that the expectation given to another person will become a reality, is known as the "Pygmalion Effect".
An ancient Greek mythology narrates that Pygmalion is a person who is always positive in his thinking in responding to every problem. When children steal apples in the garden, Pygmalion said, "Pity these Children, they lack education and have not enough food at home." When field [in] muddy down town and people grouse, he/she say, "Fortunately other field [do] not as muddy as this." Et cetera. He had never taken the bad side of other persons and circumstances he was facing. On the contrary he always tried to imagine the good sides of others and circumstances he faced.

Up to now the name of Pygmalion is recalled to depict a way of thinking which is positive. If we think positively concerning someone or situation, often the result will really become positive. But, from various further researches which related to the Pygmalion Effect, the fact is also found that if we think the opposite way (negatively) a negative chain of consequences will arise so that the impact will tend to be negative.

Does this effect also take place at the workplace? The research of D Brian McNatt found that this human phenomenon also applies in all areas including for workers at their workplaces. It was concluded that the expectation given, be it to subordinates, fellow workers or superior is something which can create bad or good reality depending on that expectation. In other words, someone's performance tends to go up or go down, for one thing, depending on the expectation received.

Following is an example from some research reports concerning the Pygmalion Effect: A research with 2.874 respondents from different job areas involving Supervisors and Workers. All work areas were divided into two groups. The Supervisor of both groups was told positive information concerning group one while regarding group two he (the same Supervisor) was not given information about anything though in fact both groups have the same quality. The research result in general indicated that the first group has better performance than the second group.

It was further found that the Pygmalion Effect does not only apply to just positive effect, but also for negative expectation. It is even estimated that your negative expectation toward others or the environment around has stronger effect than positive expectation, meaning that the possibility of negative expectation becoming a fact is bigger than positive expectation. In daily working life often we find examples as the following: If a subordinate assumes his superior less brotherly, the superior will really be unfriendly, or on the contrary; if we assume that the staff do not work well, he or she finally will never succeed in our eyes.
Our thought and expectation often affect us as fulfilling prophecy or a forecast becoming fact, either negative or positive. Pygmalion Effect reminds us to be positive thinking always toward others and the environment. The Pygmalion pattern of thinking is to think, construe and hope only what is good concerning someone or situation so that the counter-return also will be good to us. Thus, ensure that you are a Pygmalion!!!

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