Ask the Coach #5 – Der Pygmalion Effekt

Ask the Coach #5 - The Pygmalion Effect

"Ask the Coach" is a column in which Wolfgang Unsöld answers your questions.

Question: "Hello Wolfgang, I have already attended a number of seminars with you and I am always enthusiastic about the ways you show you to overcome plateaus for yourself and for customers and to achieve more progress. Therefore my question, what do you think is one of the most underestimated factors that very few trainers consider in order to lead their customers to more success? "Markus S.

WU: Markus, that's a very good question that I've often asked myself. There are a number of factors that are usually underestimated. One of the most important ones I keep observing is the Pygmalion Effect.

The Pygmalion effect (the name is based on the mythological figure Pygmalion) is referred to when the anticipated, positive assessment of a student - in our case customer - such as the student / customer is gifted / has very good genetics, by a teacher - in our case trainers – later confirmed. This is made possible by the teacher/trainer subtly conveying their expectations to the students/clients, e.g. B. through personal attention, the waiting time for an answer, through the frequency and strength of praise or criticism or through high performance requirements.

In 1965, the US psychologists Robert Rosenthal and Lenore F. Jacobson demonstrated experimentally that a teacher who is suggested that some students are particularly gifted and that they had particularly high performance potential, are unconsciously encouraged by the teacher in such a way that they end up actually increased their performance due to greater personal attention, higher performance requirements, longer waiting times for answers and more frequent and intensified praise and criticism. In the meantime, field studies have shown dozens of times that a teacher's expectations regarding the performance of certain students not only influence his assessment of the students (errors of judgement ), but also the actual performance. This is true even when the students are unaware of the expectations and the teacher thinks they are being neutral. The influencing of the student's behavior works indirectly via a positive emotional climate that the teacher creates, more differentiated feedback , the presentation of appropriate learning content and the creation of additional opportunities for the student to speak up.

Conversely, for a trainer, this means that the higher your expectations and trust in the success of the customer, the greater the success. Sounds easy. Is simple. And proven dozens of times.

Good luck with your customers and the Pygmalion Effect!

If you have a question for the "Ask the Coach" column, email it to training(at) with the subject "Ask the Coach" and with a bit of luck your question will be included in one of the upcoming posts or the upcoming book selected.

Image: Great expectations lead to great progress...

Back to blog