There was an experiment where researchers were given a set of rats and told to rate their ability to learn mazes. They were told that certain rats were “smart rats” and had an abnormally high IQ. When the researchers tested the rats, their studies showed that the “smart rats” performed significantly better than the ordinary rats.
The experiment, however, wasn’t focused on the rats, it was testing the researchers. All of the rats were the same, but telling the researchers that some of the rats were smart caused them to rate the rats better, even though there was no difference.
People will view what you do through their own set of prejudices. To a certain extent, your ability to succeed is determined by what people think of you ahead of time. When it comes to humans, very few things are actually objective.
By being aware of this, you can help yourself prepare for the future by nurturing positive impressions of yourself with those around you. If they expect you to succeed, you are more likely to (at least in their eyes) than if they expect you to fail.
Originally published October 31st, 2005
Brent Edwards says
There was an experiment done at the University of Iowa a few years ago where people were give two hearing aids to wear for a month each and evaluate. They were told that one set was new digital aids and the other set was old analog aid, while both aids were identical. You can guess the outcome, an overwhelming preference for the digital aids with comments like, “Even my wife noticed that I hear better with these digital aids,” and “The sound quality is incredibly better with the digital aids!” To me, all this means is that marketing works.
This type of experiment was done in a school several years ago, where the teacher was told a certain group had a higher IQ and thus those kids did better…
patricia also says
hey, my name’s patricia too, and i was kinda wondering what is the benefit of this to us humans. So what if we know all about the rat world? What’s it gonna do to us? That is the question of my biology teacher, i can’t answer it. If I dont give her an answer, we won’t have any other project. Hence, no grade at all
Mark Shead says
Patricia – Please read the article again. As I stated, the experiment had nothing to do with the rats and everything to do with the expectations of the experimenters. The same thing will be true when it comes to their expectations about people. In fact there have been similar experiments done where they told teachers that one group of kids was gifted and the other group was normal. They saw the same results as they did in the rat experiment.
Yeah … I was in the other group. IQ of 147 and I could barely break a “C”.
Sylvia Rollins says
I would LOVE to know how to ” nurture positive impressions of yourself with those around you” !
Mark Shead says
@Sylvia – It was a rather controversial post, but check out 6 Ways to Appear Smarter for some ideas.
Toby Doncaster says
Yah, I was told that the beer I was drinking was way better than my roomy’s but the next morning we both had bad hangovers. You can’t believe everything you’re told!