Posted: 10 June 2022

In our previous article the Pygmalion effect and the Golem effect (how others’ expectations of an individual can affect performance) were discussed, how these effects may be perpetuated by managers were outlined, and ways in which management styles can be altered to harness the Pygmalion effect summarised. However, the question remains…how does an individual’s expectation of themselves affect their performance?

The psychological construct of how personal expectations can affect personal performance is coined as the ‘Galatea effect’, this terminology also originated in the Pygmalion mythology due to the statue itself being named Galatea, and is yet another example of a ‘self-fulfilling’ prophecy based on expectations. In short, if an individual believes they are unlikely to accomplish a task, they will often live up to this expectation and fail to succeed, conversely if an individual believes they are likely to accomplish a task, it is more probable that they will succeed.

Although this effect is more difficult to directly affect, it is still possible to positively influence an individual’s feeling of self-worth which, in turn, can assist in developing their confidence to believe they can succeed. Positively interacting with individuals can encourage them to believe in themselves; below are some examples of the types of interactions that may assist in furthering self-efficacy.

  • One-to-one coaching: Within the coaching sessions the focus should be to encourage and reassure the individual, this can be achieved by emphasizing what the individual has accomplished or is currently performing well at.
  • Setting realistic targets: By setting the individual smaller more frequent targets, this provides opportunity for them to have multiple successes and reinforces their belief in their own abilities.
  • Provide opportunity for development: Ensure to investigate what subject matter the individual is interested in developing, as they are much more likely to succeed with topics they have a genuine interest in. This demonstrates that the manager trusts the individual has the ability to take ownership of their development, the capability to progress, and that they are committed in supporting them.

Although there may appear to be some cross over between the Pygmalion effect and the Galatea effect, it is important to remember for the outcome to be considered resultative of the Galatea effect, the individual’s expectations of themselves must be enhanced. The aforementioned methods of interacting differ to the direct positive reinforcement of the Pygmalion effect, and are likely to manifest in the individual as increased self-efficacy and positive self-worth which will assist in improving their performance.