Self-fulfilling prophecies: Mechanisms, power, and links to social problems

Stephanie Madon, Jennifer Willard, Max Guyll, Kyle C. Scherr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A core theme of social psychology is that perceivers can shape targets' future behaviors through self-fulfilling prophecies. Self-fulfilling prophecies occur when perceivers' false beliefs about targets initiate a sequence of events that ultimately cause targets to exhibit expectancy-consistent behaviors, thereby causing perceivers' initially false beliefs to become true. This article reviews theory and research relevant to self-fulfilling prophecies with particular foci on the underlying mechanisms that produce self-fulfilling prophecies, the power of self-fulfilling prophecies to alter behavior, and the extent to which self-fulfilling prophecies contribute to social problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-590
Number of pages13
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


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