Expectation influencing results in education:
The Rosenthal and Jacobson Experiment:
Robert Rosenthal was a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.
Lenore F Jacobson was principal of an elementary school in the South San Francisco Unified School District
Rosenthal interests included self-fulfilling prophecies.
Rosenthal and Jacobson collaborated in a famous expectation experiment, sometimes termed at the Pygmalion Effect: the effect of teachers’ expectations on students.
I had a high school (Polytechnic High School, San Francisco) friend who later worked in the South San Francisco Unified School District for 31 years, ended up as a principal and, in retirement, and as acting Assistant Superintendent for 9 months, so I asked him, Bob Parr, (Boris Pistruiloff) about the Rosenthal experiment, approximately as follows:
“I heard that the principal told three South San Francisco elementary teachers (I think three) that because they were such good teachers that they would get the best students in the new semester, and because of the expectation that they were teaching the better students, the students did better than not only the school, but 20% better than the WHOLE SCHOOL DISTRICT. At the end, the principal told them that they pulled the names of the students “out of a hat”. Well, the teachers said, “you said we were the best teachers”. Then the principal told them “we pulled your names out of a hat”! It was all about expectation theory. Do you think the story I read was embellished? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion_effect “
Here is my friend Bob Parr’s response about whether he had heard of the Rosenthal experiment. :
“Yes I have. A student of Rosenthal, a woman PhD, Stanford grad, principal of one of our elementary schools, did a smaller/reduced version of the original and, ostensibly, met with the same results. i.e. it is all about expectations that you place on the student and the ensuing results. Bob “
The work of Rosenthal and Jacobsen (1968), among others, shows that teacher expectations influence student performance. Positive expectations influence performance positively, and negative expectations influence performance negatively.
Many psychologists think that teachers do actually convey their expectations to their students, even if neither they nor the children ever actually realize it. Body language is just as important as verbal communication when conveying both positive and negative expectations, as is tone of voice. The use of body language is most commonly a subconscious form of communication, but it can prove to be very powerful. The response and interpretation of non-verbal signals is also often subconscious but tends to be long-lasting, especially when referring to one person’s expectations of another negatively. Rosenthal and Jacobson originally described the phenomenon as the Pygmalion Effect.
What about if you are told that if you go to a certain place, you may see a “vision”, or “apparition” and that other people have. If you go there and strongly expect to see one, you may “see what you expect to see”.
The power of expectation in music.
At its 1897 premiere, Rachmaninoff’s first symphony, though now considered a significant achievement, was derided by contemporary critics. Compounded by problems in his personal life, Rachmaninoff fell into a depression that lasted for several years. His second piano concerto confirmed his recovery from clinical depression and writer’s block, cured only by a course of hypnotherapy. The concerto was dedicated to Nikolai Dahl, a physician who had done much to restore Rachmaninoff’s self-confidence.
The story of Rachmaninoff’s creative crisis after the performance of his 1st Symphony and its resolution through hypnotherapy seems to be fairly well-known. The information is supposed to derive from his Recollections. The story goes that three months of hypnotherapy by the Russian physician Dr. Nikolai Dahl, together with the support of Rachmaninoff’s family enabled him to transcend the crisis and begin to compose again. Using hypnosis and affirmations, the physician told him repeatedly that he would compose and do excellent work, and Rachmaninoff’s subconscious mind was soon convinced. Dr. Dahl had been the student of Jean-Marie Charcot, the French neurologist whose work with hypnosis also inspired Freud.
The Result of Dr. Dahl’s work with Rachmaninoff’, was the awesome Second Piano Concerto, one of the best piano classical compositions in the world. Here is Sergei Rachmaninoff himself playing the Second Piano Concerto: