In 1964, teachers in an elementary school in San Francisco were given the results of an IQ test. They learned the names of 20% of their class who were going to be “intellectual bloomers” – i.e., expected to record large IQ gains during the year.
A year later, a follow up IQ test found that the prediction came true – the bloomers did bloom. First grade bloomers even registered a gain of 27 IQ points(!) relative to the rest.
There was just one twist – the bloomers were selected completely at random. The cause of their bloom wasn’t their intellect as much as it was the belief their teachers had in them. That belief showed up in the feedback they received, the approval they were given, and the patience they were afforded.
56 years later, the “Pygmalion effect” still remains among the most powerful, inspiring, and mystical psychological findings.
It may just be at the core of why we describe some folks to be inspirational – their belief in our ability to be better.
Perhaps we could begin going down that path by starting with ourselves…