How Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Works

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is a belief that causes itself to come true base on its acceptance. Either by you or anyone, when you consciously or unconsciously accepts a prediction to come true, it shall definitely be.

For instance, a woman who thinks her husband would leave her for another woman, will unconsciously act in a way which would make that belief come through. Unconsciously, she may start getting jealous easily, picks fight whenever she suspects infidelity, as well as scavenging for evidence of cheating just to nail her husband. This attitude may finally put a strain on her marriage: causing her husband to notice the unusual development, but to be left with no other option than to check out. Thus, the woman’s thoughts becomes true.

In another instance, Do you know that you can persuade others to act in whatever way you want? All you have to do is to make them believe they have certain attribute.

In a study on self-fulfilling prophecy, psychologists made some male college students in a particular group believe that a female student was attracted to them and the other group to think that she was not attracted to them. The social psychologists later observed interactions between the men and the female in question. The woman was much more likely to act as if she was attracted to the first set of men. Because the men who thought she was attracted to them acted in a way that seemed to lead her to actually be attracted to them.

A self-fulfilling prophecy can be directed at yourself, another person or group of persons. It alters our behavior, which in turn affect our decisions.

An Interesting story of Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Among the best-known examples of a self-fulfilling prophecy is the Greek legend of Oedipus. After being warned that his son would kill him, Laius abandoned the child Oedipus to die. Oedipus was then raised by foster parents and he, too, was warned that when he grew up he would kill his father and marry his mother. Fearing that this prediction might come true, Oedipus abandoned his foster parents and entered the city. There he fought with a stranger—his father—and married the stranger’s widow, who was Oedipus’s biological mother.

More Applications of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

  • If you are treated as if you are a geek, clever or stupid, you will definitely act and be as expected. And this is often referred to as Pygmalion effect.
  • You can turn your new roommate to a shy person, if you don’t speak much to him after he moves in.
  • When you woke up from bed and assumes the day is going to be a bad one after you stub your toe, definitely, all your thoughts for the day will be negative. Because you are anxiously expecting a negative thing to happen.
  • A teacher that assumes a certain student is not intelligent might give the student more negative attention, and this will undoubtedly result in poorer performance by the student.


  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
  2. University of Michigan, USA.
  3. Education Portal, 100 View St. #202, Mountain View, CA 94041.

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