Pygmalion myth

The myth 

The oldest tradition goes back to the description of the ancient poet Ovid in Greek mythology. In his work "Metamorphoses" he describes the story of the artist Pygmalion of Cyprus.

Pygmalion was so disappointed with women that he swore off them. After seeing the propoetids prostituting themselves, he decided that he was "no longer interested in women." He only lived for his art, in his case sculpture. But he couldn't completely give up on women, because without thinking about it in particular, he created an ivory statue that looked like a living woman. Impressed with his work, he began to treat the statue more and more like a real person. On the feast day of Venus (Aphrodite in the Greeks), the goddess of love, he asked that his future wife should be just like his beloved statue. 

When he returned home and caressed his statue as usual, it gradually came to life. The lips became warm after the kiss and the statue lost its rigidity. Aphrodite had granted Pygmalion his wish. The union of Pygmalion and his statue produced a daughter named Paphos. The statue itself was given the name Galatea in the 18th century.

The effect

The so-called Pygmalion effect also goes back to the mythological figure of Pygmalion. This is a psychological phenomenon in which an anticipated evaluation and assessment of people affects and thus confirms their performance. A so-called self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Pygmalion effect (also called the Rosenthal effect in the original version) is based on an experiment by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore F. Jacobson. They showed how when a teacher suggested that certain of his students were particularly gifted, he unconsciously encouraged them and ultimately actually increased their performance - regardless of whether they were really gifted or not.

When we expect certain behaviors from other people, we ourselves are likely to act in ways that make the expected behavior more likely to occur in the other person.

Through our expectations, we influence the other person's self-image and actions, which confirms our expectations.