The Learner Lab

The Pygmalion Effect with Dr. Robert Rosenthal

February 20, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
The Learner Lab
The Pygmalion Effect with Dr. Robert Rosenthal
Chapters
The Learner Lab
The Pygmalion Effect with Dr. Robert Rosenthal
Feb 20, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
Trevor Ragan, Alex Belser - TrainUgly.com
Our expectations can have a huge impact on the performance development of our people.
Show Notes Transcript

Our expectations can have a huge impact on the performance and development of our people. Trev and Alex sit down with one of the most influential psychologists in the world, Robert Rosenthal, to learn more.

Full show notes

Quick Links:
Pygmalion in the Classroom by Robert Rosenthal
Pygmalion in the Classroom
Pygmalion in Prison Classrooms
Pygmalion in Management
Israel Defense Forces
TrainUgly.com

Speaker 1:
0:01
And how do we know that they can do it? Well because some teachers believe that they could and so they took the time and the trouble to teach him this quote, harder unquote stuff that you know earlier workers at side, those kids could never learn but they could learn, but only if you taught them
Speaker 2:
0:23
can help us learn.
Speaker 3:
0:30
Where do we start with this? Probably the rest studies. The rat study was a study that Robert Rosenthal,
Speaker 1:
0:36
my name is Steve California Riverside for 37 years at Harvard. Before that
Speaker 3:
0:48
Robert Rosenthal labeled all the different rats. In his study he labeled some rats as smart and some rats as dumb
Speaker 1:
0:59
maze, bright red. It has been specially bred for brightness running mazes and a random half of the experimenters were till we've, we've gotten a series of the famous maize dough rat
Speaker 3:
1:16
and they had no idea that he'd arbitrary. They labeled them, they ran the tests, ran them through the maze to see what happened. And they found that
Speaker 1:
1:33
they got, if they expected running slow speed then from their assets, what they got,
Speaker 3:
1:43
there was nothing different between them other than they had been labeled differently, changed the expectations of the people, which changed the way that they treated the rats and when they were treated differently, it changed the way the rats performed
Speaker 2:
1:55
turned out to be kind of a self fulfilling prophecy.
Speaker 3:
1:59
And that's what's called the Pygmalion effect.
Speaker 3:
2:08
Basically what it's saying is that the expectations we have can turn into self fulfilling prophecies. And I think it's kind of an underrated topic, especially as far as like leadership and education and coaching is concerned. Because the truth is we all have expectations were probably more interested in dealing with humans than rats out of grand. Uh, the cool thing is the Pygmalion effect works with humans, not just rad. Oh really? Yeah. I think maybe the more tangible study is the one they did with students. So I actually first saw this in the culture code by Dan Coyle where he talks about a study that Rosenthal did. He went to like a California public school and he told this school like I've come up with a better version of the IQ tests. Um, this the Harvard inflected acquisition, really cool big name for it that made it sound fancy.
Speaker 3:
3:02
And the idea was this is a better test because it can identify students that are bloomers, the ones that are going to learn and grow the most over the next year. They might not have the best grades, but they have the biggest capacity for growth. So he tells the school about it and ask if he can administer the test to the students for free and that he would even process the results and give it to the school for free. It's 1968 so this school's like, sure. Uh, it's three gives the students to test and processes the results and then gave the school a list of 20 names and these students were the 20 bloomers. Again, not the ones with the best grades now, but the ones that are going to grow the most over the next year according to the results comes back a year later and they administer the test again on the same students and what they found with the group of second grade students is the bloomers score went up 27 points over the course of the year and the students not on the list, their scores went up 12 and I think with the first grade students it was 17 and seven so each one a big gap between the boomers and the other students.
Speaker 3:
4:11
So then the school is like what? Like what characteristics are you searching for it? Like how, how did you predict this test works? Yeah, and come to find out, he just gave him some random tests. It wasn't this fancy thing that Harvard invented. It was just fake. It was fake. Well not fake. It was a real test, but the results are fake because he didn't even look at the results. He just gave the school a list of 20 random names. I think the interesting thing is in this study the students didn't know on the list are about the label of bloomer. This was the teachers were aware of the students on the list. What they found is it sort of changed the way the teachers treated the students and had a huge impact on their performance over the year. What they found is like if a student was struggling but they were labeled a bloomer, the teacher would spend like more time with them and try to dig in like, Oh, this student's a bloomer.
Speaker 3:
5:08
We'd have to figure this out. Right. If a student's like not on the list and struggling, it's kind of like, Nah, not a bloomer. And so again, this is just describing that the label or expectations of the teachers had a big impact on the growth and development of the students. Now I don't think it's magic. I don't think it's just something that happens for no reason. I think it's our expectations sort of changed the way we treat people and sort of limits the opportunities we might give them, especially if we're in a leadership role. Right? They've seen like similar results of the Pygmalion effect in different arenas. I know I saw a study about how this impacts like the management and production of employees in the workplace. Um, there was one about like a prison educational program. Yeah. They brought someone in to a college level course
Speaker 4:
5:58
to a group of prisoners. And the original expectation of the guards was that the course was too difficult for them. Only a few of them had high school diplomas or Gds, but the teacher set high expectations and provided the right environment and opportunities for them to pass the class. At the end of the course, all students ended up with passing grade,
Speaker 3:
6:16
which far exceeded the original expectations of the guards. Right. So the sort of the higher expectation created a better environment where they were number one believed in, but then allowed to do the things that actually like help them grow. Right. Yeah. How did the, the the military lingo, so that one was the Israeli defense forces. So I guess they usually have two different types of training in one, just the regular basic training. And then they have another type of training for forces who don't seem to be as fit for the regular basic training. But they had so many students that weren't right there. Not only students, but they had so many people who weren't fit for the basic training that they couldn't fit them in the kind of secondary training. So what they did is they just kept the people who were supposed to be in the secondary training and they kept them in the basic training, but they didn't tell the teachers of basic training that they weren't quite qualified to be in basic training.
Speaker 3:
7:12
And what happened is nothing changed. The dropout rates didn't change. They did just as well as everyone else. The average was fine. You would expect the dropout rate to like increase. Yeah, because we have some people who are expected to vote low performing people that can't handle this. Exactly. But it didn't change. No. So the, in this scenario, it's like the, the leaders of the group, they're labeled didn't change because they weren't aware of these additional people that were added to the group. Right. So there was no chain right. It was, it was sort of like teasing out. Sure. Pygmalion effect. They're like trying to not get it to happen. Right, right, right. Interesting. Now this is something that I think we can all acknowledge plays out in the real world. And again, the argument here is like, look, we're trying to be realistic. Like we're not saying every person in the group can be the best and every student's going to get straight A's were saying that they have to be realistic and like you can't just say something crazy and then expect that that'll happen.
Speaker 3:
8:12
Everyone is capable of growing. We have to provide equal opportunities for our people to do that. Yet so many times like the label, we give limits those opportunities and that's when it's a problem. Right? Like this totally played out at one of the workshops I was doing a couple months ago. I'm a parent came up and she said her daughter is a second grader and it was recently diagnosed with dyslexia and there is actually a profound change in how the teachers were treating her after the diagnosis. So there was times in class where she wasn't allowed to read. Like the teacher said, quote, you don't need to read this because you have dyslexia. You're not allowed to read aloud. When literally just two weeks ago she was [inaudible] and reading aloud. Like maybe she wasn't the best reader in the class, but she was provided the reps and opportunities to still trying to practice reading and now because of the diagnosis, she was no longer allowed to like read aloud in the class.
Speaker 3:
9:09
Perfect example. Like again, she's not going to maybe be the best reader because this is that tough limitation. It's more tough constraint to deal with. But to be completely robbed of the Rep's like, yeah, that's a problem because she could probably get better at reading, even with dyslexia if she was given the opportunity to do that. Right. But if you take the opportunity away, you can't grow it. Yeah, there's no way. So I think the most important angle here is to be aware of the labels and expectations we have and how those might limit the reps and opportunities of our people. The examples of this are everywhere. It's like, this is why I think the Pygmalion effect is y. Like a common story in label is like, oh, tall people and basketball can't really dribble. It's like, yeah, but it's because we're robbing them of red because you have that belief.
Speaker 3:
10:01
Yeah. It turns into a self fulfilling prophecy. The belief of the coach to starting in sixth grade is like, oh, you're tall, go stand by their end. You're not allowed to. There's no need to practice dribbling because you're tall, you're terrible. So like what's happening is the taller players, their reps of handling the ball or limited because of the belief, and then it sort of becomes true. It's like, yeah, a lot of tall people struggle with dribbling, but the proof that that's total falsehood is, hey, there's like seven foot dudes in the NBA who have really great handles. Why? Because they've practiced the skill of ball handling right now. Again, we're not saying like the center on the basketball team is going to go from not being able to dribble to playing point guard in one season. It's every player on the team can get better at skills if we're allowed to practice. Yet so many times like the label or expectation gets in the way of that
Speaker 1:
11:02
and overwhelming. And I have to you a little from my own undergraduate student at Ucla, I took a course in exceptional children and at that time, uh, categories of exceptional children that we studied were kids with down syndrome. The things we learned, what we were taught was a huge list of all the things we could never learn. So of course none of us ever tried to teach those things to these kids. But nowadays the kids with down syndrome are learning lots of those things that I was taught they could never learn. And how do we know that they can do it well, because some teachers believe they could. So they took the time and the trouble to teach him this quote, harder unquote stuff earlier workers at side, those kids could never learn, but they could learn. But only if you taught them. I still think, wow. When I think about the way I was trained in, in my special ed course to believe all the things that couldn't be done by kids
Speaker 3:
12:22
in the research that we dug up. Some people get into these nonverbal cues that we give and how that can impact the performance of our people with the rats. The first one I remember they focused specifically on the nonverbal cues of that and that's an important part of it. But yeah, Rosenthal lays out three other factors in his four factor model of, of how basically Pygmalion works and which is like how are we can actually use it. It's how we can use this stuff. Okay. So the four factors are climate input, response and feedback and basically climate and just means like the nonverbal cues and sort of the environment that the teacher creates for the student or whatever superior it might be. Right. And then the second one input, that's the material being taught. So third one is response, which is basically those reps, the opportunities to respond.
Speaker 3:
13:09
And it was like even just like calling on them. Yeah, yeah. I'm more likely to call an a bloomer. Then a non boom. Right. And that's just like limiting sort of the reps, right? Of the non bloomers. Yeah. The fourth one is feedback and feedback is just that are you praised for your answers? And if a student's called on and then they give an answer and if they're seen as like a bloomer, right. A special student, um, even if they give a wrong answer, this teacher will spend more time with them telling them why that answer is wrong. They'll give them actual feedback on that and how to improve. Whereas if it's a kid who hasn't been identified as a bloomer, they don't spend as much time. Yeah.
Speaker 1:
13:54
Warmly. Those students for whom they had more favorable intellect tool, that feeling part of it. The other part, the effort part is more material to the kids for whom they believe that new material was learnable.
Speaker 3:
14:23
No matter what we do, we're not going to see there's going to be some people better at stuff than others regardless of the environment we create. But the idea here is we should provide equal opportunities for people to grow. And I think that's something we could all acknowledge and do more of. What we're saying is not that we have to set the expectation that everyone is going to get an a or that everyone's going to succeed at the highest expert. Cause there's not to have, it's not going to happen. But what we are saying is that we can set the expectation that everyone, yeah,
Speaker 2:
14:55
it can be a learner, everyone's a learner, everyone's capable of growth and that can have a big impact on the way we treat people and the growth and development of our people. Well,
Speaker 3:
15:17
if you're interested in digging a bit deeper into Pygmalion, there's a great book that Robert Rosenthal wrote himself called Pygmalion in the classroom. They kind of digs into his studies and everything that he learned. Yup. And then also we're going to link to some other studies in the show notes if you're interested in more as well. Yeah, I mean there's a lot to this
Speaker 2:
15:33
and we're going to make sure that producer Jack provides you with all the links. Now let's answer the questions from the hotline.
Speaker 5:
15:44
I love all your online material and I'm really excited for this new podcast. Differences in the types of motivation or sports psychology type techniques to use with female athletes as opposed to male athletes and especially for training or for communication during game time.
Speaker 3:
16:12
Difficult question here. Of course there are differences between male and females as far as personality type and maybe preference, but the truth is there's differences between males and females and so I think my best advice is there's some good information about our gender can influence the way we compete. And I saw some good stuff in the book top dog by Po, Po Bronson and Ashley Marryman if you wanted to get into that. But like my suggestion is is kind of like look more at the individual like get to know your people because if you're coaching boys, they're girls, they're going to be very different on the team, right? So it's I think investing time to getting to know your people. This is something that coach k does a lot of at Duke with the basketball team. This is cardiac Mri with USA volleyball. Lots of times spent in like one on one meetings, getting to know your people.
Speaker 3:
17:01
So I think as we develop those relationships we get better at finding the right ways to motivate or inspire them to take action. It's not even a male female thing, it's just, it's like again, people can be so different. It's like so answer step one is like let's really get to know our people, right? But then there are some like principles of motivation that are relevant to all of us. Maybe how we get there, it would be different. It's like at the workshops I give regardless of the audience, young, old male, female, wherever it's like we talk about the same stuff. Like the way you get there might be different, right? You might change sort of the weaving and shed area, but as far as like principles of motivation, the best resource I know is a book called drive by Daniel Pink and he talks about like how important it is to like feel like you're a part of something bigger than yourself.
Speaker 3:
17:50
You need some autonomy, you need to feel like you matter. There needs to be like a vision or pursuit that you're on and that's just she truce for humans and so it's finding ways to get to know our people and then create this environment. So my best advice would be find the book drive by Dan Pink. He also has a good ted talk on youtube that goes into sort of like what really drives people and it's usually not what he calls carrots and sticks. It's not just rewards and punishment like we can do better than that. It's a bit deeper than create a better fuel source for the motivation. So of course people that you lead and teach and coach are all different. It's like get to know them and then also understand sort of the mechanics of real motivation. You can see some short term stuff with carrots and sticks, but we, we can go deeper and I think drive is a good resource.
Speaker 3:
18:37
During this question. She also asks for any tips between age groups so older, older people versus younger people. Right. Again, it's like I go back to the workshops. It's like if we're speaking with second graders or CEOs, the same rules apply. We're trying to develop a growth mindset. The belief we can grow. We want people to understand fear. We're doing all the same thing right now. I think one tip I have, especially in the sports world for young athletes, it's the most important thing we need to develop early on is the love for the game because like the, the logic is pretty simple. If I love this sport and playing this sport, I'm going to invest more time in learning the actual tactics and writing. It's putting in the work and reps to get a better focus on the enjoyment first and then you're doing that and it's like we can build real enjoyment.
Speaker 3:
19:25
It doesn't like they show up to practice, we play tag all the time but we're having fun but it's like through playing the sport and learning to love it, we're creating a a I guess a better fuel source again. And so my best advice is especially when players are young, it's find ways to help them really enjoy playing and see like the value of the sport. And once they have that, then we can work on more of the technique and teaching of the plays and all of that stuff. So a question I've been getting a lot of in the streets as we walk around like, okay, learner lab is dropping and it's like a hot topic in the world. Just kidding. But a question, a question that people ask is like why learning? Like what? Why are we calling it learner lab? What's the focus there?
Speaker 3:
20:11
I think the simple explanation is we both think that learning is a hugely important skill and it's one with massive spill over. So anything that we do in life, any skill that we're trying to build that has to deal with learning. And I think that if you try to sort of learn how to be a better learner, that's going to spill over into every aspect you have your Elisia. Is it like a foundational skill? It's like if I'm a good learner, I'm going to be better at learning to write, learning to code, learning to lead, to do any whatever. If I know sort of the mechanics of learning is to me, like I like how you say it's a spillover skill, right? Um, well that's kind of where it didn't, the lab comes in, right? We lag into all of this research and in everything that's in there to try and figure out how we can apply absolutely.
Speaker 3:
20:55
Science valuable skill, something that we can deploy across the board. It's valuable for anyone. So that's why we picked it. And selfishly it's like we want to get better at it too, right? Right. So like we're using this podcast as an excuse to reach out to people way smarter than us and get better at a useful skill. Um, it was also happened to be a name that was available. The domain was available, so we hopped on it. Um, so yeah, that's what we're here to do. It could morph into lots of different things and we don't really have a plan other than let's dig into good stuff that can help us grow. Right? If you guys have any questions, please give us a call. The hotline is open 24 seven. You just leave a voicemail and we'll answer it in the next episode. What's that number? (805) 635-8459 boom. See you next week.