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Q: Psychology of being above average ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Psychology of being above average
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: botogol-ga
List Price: $7.00
Posted: 03 Aug 2006 05:00 PDT
Expires: 02 Sep 2006 05:00 PDT
Question ID: 752127
I read a book that asserts that 'many experiments have demonstrated
that if a random group are told that they are of 'above average
ability' in any field, and then tested, they will perform better in
the test than a similar group who have been told they are 'below
average' performers.

Can you find any studies that would support this?
Subject: Re: Psychology of being above average
Answered By: jackburton-ga on 03 Aug 2006 08:04 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
The citations below describe studies that support this. 
"This strategy, known as the labeling technique, involves assigning a
trait, attitude, belief, or other label to a target individual and
then making a request of that individual that is consistent with that
label. In an effective demonstration of this strategy, researchers
Alice Tybout and Richard Yelch (1980) showed how the labeling
technique could be used to increase the likelihood that individuals
would vote on Election Day. They interviewed a large number of
prospective voters, and randomly told half of them that, based on
their responses, they could be characterized as "above-average
citizens likely to vote and participate in political events." The
other half of the interviewees were informed that they could be
characterized as about average in terms of these interests, beliefs,
and behaviors. Those respondents given the label as being a good
citizen and as having a high likelihood of voting not only came to see
themselves as better citizens than those labeled as average, but they
also were more likely to vote in an election held one week later."
Inside Influence Report: How To Be A Business Jedi Master Of  Ethical Influence
"Labeling Tactics. Another way to induce commitment to a course of action is to 
give a person a label that is consistent with the action we wish for
them to take. Some researchers call this tactic "altercasting"
(Weinstein & Deutschberger 1963, 1964; Pratkanis, 2000). For instance,
when an adult told elementary school children that "You look to me
like the kind of girl (or boy) who understands how important it is to
write correctly" those children were more likely to work diligently on
a penmanship task several days later in private (Cialdini et al.,
1998). Alice Tybout and Richard Yalch (1980) demonstrated how this
same approach could be used to spur adults to vote. They interviewed
162 voters and, at random, told half of them that--according to their
interview responses--they were "above average citizens likely to vote
and participate in
political events." The other half were told that they appeared to be
average in these activities. Those given the above-average label
appeared to internalize the feedback, reporting in a follow-up
questionnaire that they saw themselves as better citizens. Tellingly,
these same people were significantly more likely to vote in a local
election held a week later."
The Business of Influence: Principles that lead to success in commercial settings
Not really about being above or below average, but similar principle:
"The use of altercasting was demonstrated in a study by sociologist
Philip Blumstein on social interaction in a dating situation.2 Women
in the study were instructed to claim a "healthily assertive" identity
by altercasting their dates into a submissive role. They would say
things like "I've been dating this one guy, but we broke up because he
would never let me have any say about what we do. You wouldn't treat
me that way, would you?" Or "I like guys who don't come on like they
own me, but let me take some initiative."
Although some of the men rejected these attempts to define their
identity, most did not. Most went along with their assertive dates,
presenting themselves in a way that was consistent with the identity
into which they had been cast."
"Altercasting" Your Date
"Support for self-perception predictions is also seen in studies using
a labelling technique. This entails classifying research participants,
purportedly on the basis of their behavior, in the hope that they will
later act in a manner consistent with the characterization. From the
standpoint of self-perception, it is predicted that labeling peole's
behavior wil cause them to view themselves as the kind of people who
engage in sequent label-consistent behavior. A study by Swisinyard and
Ray (1977) provides support for this prediction. They found that Palo
Alto residents who were labeled as "interested in their fellowman" and
"Red Cross Supporters" were significantly more likely to state an
intention to do volunteer work for the Red Cross in follow-up
telephone interviews than were nonlabeled participants. Other
investigations have indicated a similar labeling effect (Kraut 1973;
Miller, Brickman, and Bolen 1975)."
The Effect of Experience: A Matter of Salience?
Alice M. Tybout, Richard F. Yalch
Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Mar., 1980), pp. 406
Google Searches:
study "told that they were above average"
"labeling technique" "above average"
"Alice Tybout" Richard Yalch" "labeling technique"
botogol-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
great, thanks

Subject: Re: Psychology of being above average
From: keystroke-ga on 03 Aug 2006 08:21 PDT
You may also want to actually look at this.

I spoke to a friend who is a psychologist and she said that should
point you in the right direction.

It is known as the Pygmalion Effect (Rosenthal Effect).


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