Golem effect: work, couple, getting around it, what is it?

The Golem effect translates the idea that an individual’s performance decreases if someone in authority belittles them. At school, at work, in love life… Concrete examples and advice from Dr. Béatrice Millêtre, doctor of psychology, to cancel out this negative effect!

The Golem effect, negative counterpart ofPygmalion effectresults in poorer performance following a potential judged as inferior by an authority (a parent, a teacher, a boss etc). The idea that this authority has of us is internalized and transcribed by ourselves into reality. This phenomenon was first studied in so-called underprivileged school environments. Indeed, teachers presupposed that children from these backgrounds did less well than others and transmitted this negative belief to them. The Golem effect involves adverse consequences whether at school, at work or in the couple. It’s what ? What is his origin ? What is its impact on management ? How to take consciousness and circumvent it?

Definition: what is the Golem effect?

“The Golem effect reflects the idea that what others think of us will influence uswe will imagine that what they think of us can be real (even though it is false)” says Dr. Millêtre. We are talking about self-fulfilling prophecies. In other words, if someone you look up to thinks you are bad at something, you will be bad. “A negative prophecy will lead the individual to obtain worse results than what he is capable of, the Golem effect restricts the potential of the individual specify the psychologist. For the Golem effect to work, there must be a form of affiliation or infeodationthat the person who thinks something of you is a ascending (hierarchical, moral etc). Without a bond of trust or subordination, the opinion of the other does not count. “The author of the Golem effect is not aware of what he is doing and of its impact, otherwise it becomes bullying and manipulation. Most have internalized a belief, something that is by definition unquestionable, a shorthand thought that once made sense but now falls into place automatically.“recalls Dr. Millêtre.

“What the other thinks of us will influence us”

What is the origin of the Golem effect?

The Golem is a creature from Jewish legends, it is created from scratch to serve and defend its master. He is not complete because he is unable to speak or has no free will. Its name comes from the Hebrew in which it means embryo, shapeless Where unfinished. “The Golem effect in the psychological sense of the term takes its roots in social influences, social construction and the environment in which we live. We all have beliefs, true and false, right and wrong marked by television, books, events, the weight of history etc. continues the specialist. For example, traditionally, children from underprivileged school backgrounds did less well for socio-economic reasons and this has now turned into an implicit belief, which is not necessarily the case.“.

What is the impact of the Golem effect at school?

Experiments have shown that students perceived as intelligent and good students by their teachers will tend to have better grades than those considered “dunces“. Of the biases unconsciously influence our reactions and the messages we convey to others.

Internalized unconscious biases influence us on a daily basis

Work: what is the impact of the Golem effect in management?

The Golem effect at work occurs if a superior belittles his subordinates and the latter internalize what their boss says and thinks of them. “If a manager constantly belittles his collaborators by telling them that they will not succeed, that they are not autonomous, if he checks everything that each member of his team does then they will not be independent” illustrates the psychologist. They will internalize their professional failure, their lack of skills and perform tasks below their actual abilities. On the other hand, if the boss complains all the time, the employees will tend to complain too“.

What is the Golem effect in the couple?

“It’snegative placebo effect: I think it won’t work, so it doesn’t work” underlines our expert. If your spouse says to you for example: “You do not know how to be organized”, given the value given to the words of the latter, then you will say to yourself: “He is right, I do not know how to be organized” and you will interpret each element that can go in the direction of this assertion as a sign proving that he is right to think that of you.

“If a teacher tells a child that he is good for nothing, the parents must counterbalance to cancel the Golem effect”

What is the Golem effect for example?

► An example in the couple : your spouse tells you that you are messy, that you don’t know how to tidy up the house. You interpret the slightest sign (a pen in the wrong place) as jjustification for his assertion and accept the fact of being messy even though your house is rather tidy.

► An example at the crib : “A study carried out in a nursery revealed that the behavior of employees differed towards boys than towards girls. They did less hugs to little boys when they were persuaded to treat both equally. Male children therefore internalized that they deserved fewer hugs. It is the result of conditioned unconscious beliefs” develops Dr. Millêtre.

First, you have to know that this phenomenon exists. Once we are aware of it, “we circumvent it by knowing adjust our expectations to the demands of the environment” counsel the psychologist. At work, if a hierarchical superior is belittling, that the environment is unhealthy, we must remain confident in his abilities and change jobs. “The pernicious effect is the interpretation of each clue as revealing our lack of capacity, attitude that will hold us back. We are here on a work ofself esteem and his abilities“supports Dr. Millêtre.

In the coupleif you change spouse and one of the faults attributed to you by your ex-companion disappears, you may have been a victim of the Golem effect. At school, “If a teacher tells a child that he is good for nothing, that he will not succeed, the parents must counterbalance by encouragement to cancel the Golem effect” recommends our interlocutor. The role of teachers is essential to avoid long-term harm to children. They must develop a critical spirit, be aware of the weight of their words and pay attention to the words they use. It is the same for the parents in education or the manager at work.

Thanks to Dr Béatrice Millêtre, doctor in psychology.

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Golem effect: work, couple, getting around it, what is it?

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