[Paleopsych] pygmalion effect

Marcel Roele mroele at hetnet.nl
Mon Aug 9 14:18:45 UTC 2004

Sorry for my tardy response. The late Richard Snow made a meta analysis 
of 18 studies of effect of teacher expectancy on children's IQ. 
Excluding the methodologically flawed original Pygmalion study mentioned 
below, the other 17 (more sound) studies yielded a positive effect of 
less than 0.5 IQ points (R.E.Snow /Pygmalion and Intelligence? /Current 
Directions in Psychological Science 4 (1995): 169-171.


Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. wrote:

> Michael,
> Good question. The original Pygmalion Effect was the subject of a 1968 
> book (Pygmalion in the Classroom), by Rosenthal & Jacobson. As I 
> recall, Rosenthal was allowed by Jacobson to manipulate the 
> expectations of teachers in Jacobson's school (she was Principal). 
> Teachers were led, at the beginning of the year, to believe that 
> certain students were unusually gifted and should 'bloom' during that 
> year. By the end of the year they showed - if I recall correctly - a 4 
> or 5 point increase in IQ (on the WISC, I believe, which is a gold 
> standard of IQ tests). Replications showed consistent IQ gains, but 
> Marcel suggests very small - no practical effect in a .5 group gain. I 
> can't find that number in my quick APA literature search. (Marcel, 
> citation???)
> Here is a  synopsis:
> http://www.teachers.net/FAQ/schoolhouse/bruno23.html
> There are quite a few pages about the effect on the web.
> Subsequent research showed a consistent improvement when expectation 
> is manipulated, including apparently genuine differences between rats, 
> 7th graders, college students, and military recruits. Marcel seems to 
> have more of an expertise in this area, I am just going from my 
> memory. The effect has been pretty much taken over by business 
> consultants who have written a good deal on it. I don't hear of it in 
> education any more. (comments, Frank???  Karen???)
> Appreciative Inquiry has made a pretty big deal of the Pygmalion 
> effect, and as I review the literature they probably make more of it 
> than they should - typical for constructivists (grin, wink) since they 
> don't believe in Truth anyway.
> Some children, by the way, apparently are much more vulnerable to the 
> Pyg effect, being more field dependent (depending on social cues), 
> whereas the children more field independent were pretty much immune to 
> social expectations. The apparent active ingredients seem to have been 
> non-verbal expectancy, like the way the teacher would look towards the 
> supposedly gifted (randomly chosen) students when discussing difficult 
> material, asking questions, and so on. This apparently inspired the 
> students to try harder and master more material.
> Finally, the effect probably gets ignored because Rosenthal's results, 
> with kids, mice, college students, and so on, also shows that 
> Experimenter Bias is a huge effect. Related:   Studies of 
> antidepressants funded by drug houses regularly show large effect 
> sizes; studies done independently show small to insignificant effect 
> size. MDs doing ratings regularly rate the drug patients as much more 
> improved than therapy patients; when patients rate themselves (using a 
> Beck, for example), the effect is reversed, therapy>drugs. So this 
> gets ignored because we don't like to think of ourselves as the source 
> of such high levels of Noise vs. Signal.
> Lynn Johnson
> Salt Lake City
> "We're all doctors here."
>     -- Woody Allen
> Michael Christopher wrote:
>>>>However, Pygmalion effect (effect of expectations)
>>is just 0.5 IQ points (based on serious studies, not 
>>--How were the studies done, exactly?
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