Self-fulfilling prophecy: the phenomenon and its implications
Abstract: The article presents the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecy and provides some critical thoughts about the possibilities of using it constructively as well as preventing its possible detrimental effects. The phenomenon is first presented historicaly: from the first definition by Merton, through Rosenthal's classical Pygmalion study that brought the topic into social psychology, to an analysis of the extremeness of both positive and negative reactions that the study spawned. This is followed by an overview of modern research regarding the existence of self-fulfilling prophecy; its magnitude, practical importance, and prevalence. Then, Rosenthal's Ten-arrow model and Four-factor theory that aim to explain the factors and mechanism of self-fulfilling prophecy are described. The presentation is completed by an analysis of cultural-historical as well as paradigmatic context that importantly contributed to the importance of self-fulfilling prophecy research in social psychology. In conclusion, some possibilities for diminishing the prevalence of the phenomenon are presented. In regard to this, the role of awareness is especially emphasized, both in the sense of being aware of phenomenon's existence as well as in the sense of understanding its workings.
Keywords: self-fulfilling prophecy, Pygmalion effect, social reality, social constructivism, social psychology