The Pygmalion Effect was defined by Harvard researcher Robert Rosenthal in 1968 as, “the phenomenon whereby one person’s expectation for another person’s behavior comes to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
In the original experiment, Rosenthal gave first and second graders an IQ test and then picked 20% of the students completely at random and (falsely) told their classroom teachers that the test results indicated that those (randomly selected) students were going to be notable “intellectual bloomers” during the coming year. The actual results of the IQ tests were not disclosed to the teachers.
When the students’ IQs were retested at the end of the school year, sure enough, the (randomly selected) students who’d been (falsely) identified to the teachers as students who would “bloom intellectually” during the coming year actually did show significant increases in their IQ scores compared to the rest of the class which did not. The conclusion was that students in first and second grade lived up to the teacher’s high expectations for them.
I can’t help but think of the Pygmalion Effect when God asks His people to do things that are hard, we sometimes respond, “Gee God, me? Really? I think maybe You picked the wrong person,” and God says, “Nope, I know you can do this.”