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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a statement that alters actions and therefore comes true. For example, a person stating “I’m probably going to have a lousy day,” might alter his actions so that such a prediction is fulfilled by his actions. This may be an unconscious gesture. A person who might espouse a self-fulfilling prophecy in a positive way “I’m going to have a great day,” might act in ways that will actually make this prediction true.

The self-fulfilling prophecy actually predates its name. Early examples of the self-fulfilling prophecy are the Greek myths surrounding Oedipus. Oedipus fulfills the oracle’s prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother, by striving to avoid the prophecy. This can be called a self-fulfilling prophecy because it is Oedipus’ actions that make the prophecy true.

Robert Merton, a 20th century sociologist, actually coined the term of self-fulfilling prophecy. In his definition, in the book Social Theory and Social Structure published in 1949, the prophecy or prediction is false but is made true by a person’s actions. In the modern sense the prophecy has neither false nor true value, but is merely a possibility that is made into probability by a person’s unconscious or conscious actions. (wisegeek.org)

Published:Mar 6th 2013
Modified:Mar 6th 2013

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