Self-fulfilling prophecy is a significant aspect in psychology. The term represents the concept of a belief, assumption or expectation which a person holds about an event in the future and which manifests because the person holds it. In other words, self-fulfilling prophecy can be defined as the thought or the expectation which manifests in an individual’s life because the individual thought about it. It can be seen in various aspects in the life of an individual. For example, in a class, if a teacher believes that a particular student is not intelligent, the teacher might not give much positive attention to that student and it will lead to poorer performance by the student. Thus, the belief of the teacher regarding the specific student manifests.
There is strong evidence of the impact of people’s beliefs and the expectations on the outcomes, especially when people are convinced that the predictions would manifest and even in the cases when people are not aware of their expectations. One very common application of the self-fulfilling prophecy in psychology is the placebo effect in the medical science, such as, in the clinical trials. The placebo effect can be defined as the improvements in the results in the subjects of the clinical trials or scientific research even when the subjects did not receive any significant treatment. The belief of the participants or the subjects regarding the receipt of the treatment affects their psychology and response to the treatment, which often leads to improvement in their condition. Hence, the placebo effect is practiced in many cases in the medical science to make the subject confident psychologically and get positive outcome of the treatment.
The self-fulfilling prophecy can also be defined as a prediction which directly or indirectly gets manifested due to the belief held by individuals. For example, a candidate might believe that he cannot perform well in a job interview and his belief will increase his anxiety. That will make him less confident about his potential and he might perform poorly in the interview and not get the job. Thus, his belief will validate his negative self-assessment.
Self-fulfilling prophecy can be directed towards oneself, another individual, a group, or towards inanimate objects. The thoughts of the individuals dramatically influence their behaviour and that in turn can influence the likelihood of getting the things that the individuals want, the frequency of engaging with different types of activities and their ability of making good decisions. Similarly, the behaviour of the individuals can affect another individual or a group of people, especially those on whom the individual has authority or with whom they spend considerable amount of time. Hence, it is often seen that parents take extra care of one particular child among others, who they believe have more potential among the siblings. Similarly, it is also found that when both parents believe that their child is addicted to alcohol, it is more likely that the child will drink more alcohol than expected. Thus, it can be said that self-fulfilling prophecies or predictions become reality just because individuals believe in those.
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