Self-Fulfilling Prophecies


You perform well at work one day, but not the next. One person sees you as “warm”; another as “cold”. Maybe it’s just you – but could other people’s expectations be shaping your behavior?

Dive deeper

"A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what’s in front of it." Watch this video by Canon Australia to see just how powerful our expectations can be.

"As a novice computer programmer, I always got the benefit of the doubt – because I looked the part." From Philip Guo’s "Silent Technical Privilege". (Slate)


Glover, D., Pallais, A., & Pariente, W. (2017). Discrimination as a self-fulfilling prophecy: Evidence from French grocery stores. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, qjx006.

Snyder, M., Tanke, E. D., & Berschied, R. (1977). Social perception and interpersonal behavior: On the self-fulfilling nature of social stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(9), 1-16.


The Mind of the Beholder was created and developed by Mahzarin Banaji and Olivia Kang with funding from PwC and Harvard University.

Narration by Olivia Kang, featuring Jack Cao (Harvard University)

Sound Editing & Mixing by Evan Younger

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Artwork by Olivia Kang

Research Assistant: Timothy Carroll