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The Concept of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

William E. Wilkins
Sociology of Education
Vol. 49, No. 2 (Apr., 1976), pp. 175-183
DOI: 10.2307/2112523
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112523
Page Count: 9
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The Concept of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
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Abstract

The recent deluge of experiments on teacher expectations has failed to provide consistent and unambiguous findings. It is argued in this paper that one of the primary reasons for the inconsistent results is the failure to understand the roots and workings of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Seven aspects of the self-fulfilling prophecy are discussed under the rubric of two broad categories. The first category views changes in the environment as requisite for changes in interpersonal perceptions. The second category, consistent with research on teacher expectations, suggests that changes in interpersonal perceptions can occur without any previous changes in the environment. The logical extensions of these seven factors are discussed. Also presented is the suggestion that the key variables in teacher expectation studies are noncognitive and center on attitudes and attitude change.

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