The Effects of Labeling

Topics: Prophecy, Self-fulfilling prophecy, Sociology Pages: 2 (560 words) Published: April 29, 2012
The Effects of Labeling

Read the following excerpt from the report of a study conducted with 5th graders whose littering behavior the school’s administrating was attempting to correct.

. . . Some of the students received lectures on the importance of being neat and tidy. These included lectures on ecology and the dangers of pollution, on why it is important to throw away lunchroom trash, and a plea from the janitor to keep things clean. Other students did not receive a lecture but were repeatedly told that they were a neat and tidy class. For example, these students were told by the janitor that they were one of the neatest classes in the school, and they were encouraged by their teacher to think about why they were so tidy.

What did the results show? Those students who received lectures did not improve their littering behavior. In contrast, fifth-graders who were randomly labeled “neat and tidy” became neater and tidier, dropping three times more litter in the trash cans than did their classmates. In a second study, Miller and his colleagues repeated their results, finding that average second-graders who were labeled “math achievers” subsequently improved in math to a greater extent than their classmates who were merely exhorted to do better at math. In both cases, the name made the thing; a weed by any other name may be a rose.

From The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion by Anthony R. Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, 1991.

How does labeling relate to the self-fulfilling prophecy?

Labeling and self-fulfilling prophecies both focus on the power of words, they are synchronous to each other because Proverbs 23:7 ‘As a man thinketh, so is he’. According to page 66 of the text, a self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that comes true because you act as if it were true. This is why it is always important to think positively.

How has labeling affected you or others you know?
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