“This kid is dumb,” “you’ll never amount to anything,” “get out, you don’t know how.”These phrases clearly reflect a negative expectation of the person to whom they refer. And not only that, but whether they are expressed or not, a series of actions will probably be carried out that will make the subject introject that idea and end up behaving in the expected way.

This is known as the Pygmalion effect. But there is also an effect related to the same situation, although from a different perspective: we are talking about the Galatea effect .

The Myth of Pygmalion and Galatea

To better understand how the Pygmalion effect and the Galatea effect work, it may be useful to see where these terms come from, with their history being linked to mythology .

The myth of Pygmalion presents him as the king of Cyprus, who all his life had sought the perfect woman to become his wife. However, he could not find anyone. The king decided to devote his time to sculpture, an art in which he excelled. He decided to represent the perfect woman in one of his works, creating an ivory statue of such perfection that he ended up falling in love with her . He called her Galatea and spent a long time admiring her. But the statue did not stop being such a thing.

Pygmalion attended various religious celebrations and prayed to the gods to give him life, and Aphrodite, goddess of love and passion, responded to his pleas. On returning home Pygmalion spent a long time looking sadly at Galatea, and finally kissed her. But surprisingly he found the touch warm. With a second kiss, Galatea came alive, falling in love with Pygmalion.

The Pygmalion effect

Through the myth, we can observe how Pygmalion’s desires and expectations caused him to perform a series of actions that in turn would lead to those desires and expectations becoming reality .

From the same myth has been extrapolated what is called the Pygmalion effect, according to which the expectations that we project on others will cause us to do actions that will eventually generate this type of behavior in the person in question. For example, if we think that a child is not going to achieve anything and we unconsciously project that idea, in the long run it is more likely that the child will believe the same thing and end up fulfilling the behavior and role that was expected of him.

The Pygmalion effect is well known in the world of psychology and education n , and it can have a great effect on individuals, and it can do what others expect of them. But just as other people’s expectations have an effect, so do our own. In this way we can observe the existence of another important complementary effect to this one. This is the Galatea effect.

The Galatea Effect

The Galatea effect refers to the power that belief has with respect to one’s own capacities and possibilities or the lack of them when it comes to achieving success or not in our objectives.

If a person feels confident and capable of achieving what he wants, he will have a much higher probability of reaching his goals because his behaviour will be more oriented and focused on them . The subject will tend to depend more on his/her own effort and will feel much more committed to the achievement of the objectives.

On the contrary, someone who feels incapable of achieving what he wants, who lacks confidence, will not dare to go all out for his goals. He will tend to doubt, to make visible possible mistakes and failures, and his commitment to this will be more fragile, making it more likely than not that he will not achieve his goal.

Your relationship with the perception of others

The Galatea effect does not only have an internal connotation. Our self-perception and self-confidence are projected outwards through our attitudes and behaviour, so that others will grasp them and form an image of us based on them among other things .

The image they form will be more positive or negative depending on what they can grasp, and that image will influence how they treat us. For example, if they see us as weak, they may be more likely to take advantage of us or protect us, while if we project a more determined image, they may admire or envy us. Also in the expectations that others form of us

In the same way, the perception that others have of us and what they transmit to us will affect us modifying to some degree our self-perception and with it our way of acting, which in turn makes the Galatea effect and the Pygmalion effect intimately related.

However, what is most important in terms of predicting our success or failure is what we think of ourselves and our chances of achieving it, since a person can succeed even if his environment does not believe in it, while someone who does not believe in himself will have a much harder time even if his whole environment supports him.

Linking with locus of control

The Galatea effect is also related to the locus of control, understood as the link we establish between what happens and what we do, that is to say, to the attribution of events to the action itself or to other factors such as the suert and .

A person who believes that his or her successes are due to internal, stable and global factors will engage in much more active and goal-oriented behavior, while someone who thinks that they are due to external, unstable and particular factors may consider that his or her successes are not such but mere chance and therefore lose the motivation to fight for his or her goals.