Did you know that you have the power to alter your performance based on your mindset? In the 1960s Robert Rosenthal conducted an experiment that discovered just how powerful brains can be in manifesting beliefs into reality. He named this the Pygmalion effect, after the Greek story about a sculptor who loved his ivory creation so much that it turned into a real woman.
In this study, in a California elementary school, all students were given an IQ test at the start of the school year. Then, 20% were chosen at random and told they were “intellectual bloomers” or “academic superstars” (despite their actual scores). Their teachers were told to treat all the students the same. While these students did not actually score higher on the start of the year IQ test, they ALL scored higher on the end of the year assessment. Simply by being told they were smarter, the students internalized this information and in turn, were able to increase their intellectual capabilities! It's easy to tell ourselves negative things, to let our brains trick us into believing we’re not worthy, smart, capable, etc. However, think about what can happen when we tell ourselves that we are amazing, capable, brilliant, and worthy. Simply hearing these things can improve our performance. Put these practices into effect. Write down your positive traits, your amazing characteristics, your true abilities. Look at them, remind yourself, and go into your courses, your clerkships, and your exams knowing that you an intellectual bloomer, a true academic superstar! Manifest your reality. Be your own Pygmalion and bring it to life!
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Kristen Heath is a Lead Advisor in the Mentoring & Advising Program at IU School of Medicine. She has worked in higher education for over eight years, starting her career off on Air Force Bases teaching Psychology coursework. She is passionate about lifelong learning and devotion to personal well-being. When she is not in the advising office you can find her teaching Zumba, dancing, or riding bikes with her son, Ryder. She is a fan of the outdoors and loves to camp, hike and garden.