Self-Fulfilling Prophesy

The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy is a two step process.

#1. You make a prediction — positive or negative.

#2: You unintentionally and unknowingly take action to cause that prediction to come true.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy is a proven scientific phenomenon which has been validated in many arenas. Including: Sports, USAF Academy, the classroom, etc.


Let’s look at how it plays out in the classroom:

  • Students were arbitrarily divided into two groups
  • One group was identified to the teacher as High Potential
  • At the end of the year all students were tested
  • The “High Potential” students scored higher

How did the teacher’s predictionof the “High Potentialstudents being successful influence the student’s behavior?

In accordance with the teachers prediction, the teacher was observed to unknowingly, inadvertently, and unintentionally take action that cause that prediction to come true

Researchers Observed: Verbal & Non-Verbal messages from the teacher

  • smiled more at those students
  • used more complimentary language
  • used a more-engaging tone of voice
  • offer after-school help
  • call on him/her more often
  • expand on half-answers


Let’s look at how it plays out in your relationship:

How can one partner’s “prediction” determine the fate of your relationship? How is the skepticism of either partner able to doom the relationship?

Because of your recent past history, you make the assumption (prediction) that as soon as your spouse gets home, an argument will ensue.

  • Chances are good that such a prediction would cause you to get standoffish, withdrawn, or defensive as soon as you hear them walk in the door.
  • What are the chances that your unfriendly behavior (defensiveness) would cause your spouse to get angry, hostile, combative?
  • Now your defensive and they are angry. Your prediction has caused the anticipated negative interaction.

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Dr. Karlsberg is the senior Relationship Strategist providing relationship strategies to married individuals.