What Is Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? (Expert Guide)

This blog explains the self-fulfilling prophecy in detail.

We often come across situations in which we predict certain things to happen and those things actually do happen.

This is all because of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Our predictions about the upcoming event, based on our prior experiences or beliefs, influence our behavior due to which our expectations come true.

This phenomenon is referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The blog mentions various examples to help you clarify your concepts about self-fulfilling prophecy.

Examples will help you understand how believing one thing can simply make a prediction come true.

The two major types of self-fulfilling prophecies are also mentioned in the blog.

Let’s move forward and find out some more facts about self-fulfilling prophecy.

What is Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

A self-fulfilling prophecy is referred to as a prediction or a belief about future events that influence the behavior of an individual as a result of which his prediction or belief comes out to be true. 

For instance, you wake up one morning and without any specific reason, you say to yourself that today is going to be a very terrible day.

Your this prediction influences your behavior, and you behave in a way that really makes your day a very terrible one.

Unconsciously, you might confirm your belief or prediction by magnifying negative events that happen all day, ignoring all the positive things, and behaving in a way that assures the day is not an enjoyable one.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a very old concept that has been used in culture and art. Literature also presents various examples of self-fulfilling prophecy. 

The Greek story of Oedipus itself is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The father of Oedipus that he will be killed by his son all of a sudden.

Therefore, to avoid death, Laius, the father of Oedipus abandoned his son and left him to die. 

Oedipus was brought about by his foster parents without letting him know that they are not his real parents.

Just like Laius, Oedipus was also given a dreadful warning that he will kill his father and marry his widow mother.

Since Oedipus didn’t want this to happen, he left his foster parents and moved to the city.

On his way, he met a stranger with whom he had a fight. The Stranger was killed and Oedipus married his widow.

Later on, he found out that the one whom he killed was his real father and the widow he had married is his real mother.

Both Oedipus and his father exhibited their predictions. 

This story gave popularity to the concept of self-fulfilling Prophecy in Literature and film.

A lot of empirical evidence has also been collected about this concept in the field of psychology.

Types of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

There are two main types of self-fulfilling prophecies. These are self-imposed prophecy and other-imposed prophecy.

Both types of prophecies are explained as follows:

Other-Imposed Prophecy

Other-imposed property is the type of self-fulfilling prophecy in which the experiences of one individual govern the actions of other people.

For example, there is a girl named Jamie who is about to take the college entrance exam.

Jamie e had prepared very well for the entrance test but as she was about to enter the examination hall, she received a call from her dad who tells her it’s totally fine if she does not get good marks because of the test anxiety she experiences whenever she gives a test.

When Jamie started doing the test, she realized her heart was beating very fast, she lost her ability to think and feared the time will run out and she will not be able to complete the test.

She fights with her self during the test hours but when the results came, she had scored very less marks then she expected. 

In this case, Jamie’s dad imposed his Prophecy on Jamie as a result of which she got anxious and couldn’t do good in her entrance test.


Self-imposed prophecy, as the name implies, is the type of self-fulfilling prophecy in which the individual’s own experiences affect his behavior.

For instance, Ryan had experienced a lot of rejection in his life. Now he was going to ask a woman for going on a date with him and he was sure he would face rejection this time as well.

He goes to that woman and with his hands in his pocket, head down and very low voice, he tells the woman that he knows she would reject him but still he wants to ask her if she will accompany him on a date.

Ryan faced rejection just as he had expected. 

In this case, Ryan’s own predictions about the future and belief about himself led to this situation.

Regardless of how attractive he was looking, his prediction and belief affected his behavior as well as his body language, as a result of which his Expectations came true.

Some More Examples of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 

The following are some more examples of self-fulfilling prophecy to help you clarify your concept about self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Expectations of pain: Empirical evidence has shown that people who keep negative self-fulfilling prophecies tend to experience more pain.

The individuals who had already experienced pain in their early life, presume that they will experience the pain again. 

Economic decision making: Self-fulfilling prophecy also influence economic decision making.

Studies have shown that when individuals were given a positive and negative economic forecast, the individuals who had received negative economic forecast took longer to make decisions and avoided taking risks. 

Mini Exercise

Let’s perform a mini exercise to find out how much you have learned about self-fulfilling prophecy.

The following are two multiple-choice questions.

Answer these questions, and match your answers with the answers given at the end of this exercise to find out how much you have learned so far about this topic.

1. Which of the following is NOT an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

a. Charlotte is a very intelligent teenager but he told her stepsisters and friends that she is sure she will live a life of poverty and failure.

Her belief influenced her academic performance and she was eventually dropped from school. 

b. Josh believed that he is not good enough to attend an audition for Julliard.

Thus, in spite of his parent’s encouragement, Josh expressed his hesitation and disinclination to the admissions committee which gave them a hint of uncertainty and they didn’t admit him.

c. Morgan listened to his professor predicting that the economic crisis will not allow entry-level graduates to find competitive jobs.

When Morgan goes on to the interview, she didn’t prepare well considering it would be a waste of time and as a result of this, she was not hired for being considered unfit for the job.

d. Ankle twisted just a month before the marathon. Despite his trainer’s advice for not participating, Kevin ran in the marathon and stood third.

2. Which of the following is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

a. A woman predicts her marriage will be a failure. As a result of this, she stops being affectionate with her husband who later on leaves her.

b. A jobless man finds out job vacancies in the newspaper and soon gets one job.

c. A mother was taking counseling sessions. Her counselor told her to be nice to her son. As a result of this, her son started opening up to her.

d. A student thinks that he will be getting full marks in the test but when the result comes, he realizes he had got a lower grade.

(Answer 1: Option D, Answer 2: Option A)

The following are some of the best books on a self-fulfilling prophecy.

These books are a great source of increasing knowledge about self-fulfilling prophecy.

The books help to acknowledge the effects of self-fulfilling prophecy and guides how we can use it productively and in a positive way.

Just click the book you wish to study and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access it.

  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: A Practical Guide to Its Use in Education (School Librarianship) by Robert T. Tauber
  • Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy by Lee Jussim
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy by Shannon Keirnan
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Readership and Authority in the First Roman de la Rose by David F. Hult
  • Self-fulfilling prophecies: Social, psychological, and physiological effects of expectancies by Russell A Jones

What are the two types of self-fulfilling prophecy?

There are two kinds of self-fulfilling prophecies. These are self-imposed prophecies and other important prophecies.

Self-imposed prophecy, as the name implies, is the type of self-fulfilling prophecy in which the individual’s own experiences affect his behavior.

On its contrary, the other-imposed property is the type of self-fulfilling prophecy in which the experiences of one individual govern the actions of other people, as in ‘Pygmalion in the Classroom’ study.

What is meant by a self-fulfilling prophecy?

A self-fulfilling prophecy is defined as a prediction that comes true because of the behavior of the believer.

In this case, ‘self-fulfilling’ is referred to as the ‘foretold phenomena that become true’ while ‘prophecy’ refers to the ‘prediction’.

What is another name for a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Self-fulfilling Prophecy is a very long word therefore in order to use it easily and conveniently in an academic and technical context, the word self-fulfilling prophecy is cut short into or abbreviated as SFP.

SFP is now being used outside of such formal settings.

What is the self-fulfilling prophecy in education?

In education, the self-fulfilling prophecy can be referred to as a circular pattern.

This is because of the actions of students towards others influence the beliefs of the teachers about them, which affect the behavior of teachers with students, which in turn shape up the student’s belief about themselves.

What is a negative self-fulfilling prophecy?

If the consequence of a prophecy is negative, positive feedback produces a negative outcome, it is referred to as a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.

For instance, if a group of individuals figures out not to work towards their goal achievement because they will not be able to achieve their goal, their prophecy proves self-fulfilling. 

How do you create a positive self-fulfilling prophecy?

Positive self-fulfilling prophecies can be created in a number of ways.

Some of these methods include being aware of self-fulfilling prophecy, altering belief system, boosting up self-esteem, proving self-fulfilling prophecies wrong, changing your language, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you, and taking time to to make conclusions.

This blog aimed to clarify your concepts about self-fulfilling prophecy.

The blog explained the self-fulfilling prophecy in detail and provided you with a number of examples that would help you learn this concept more easily.

Your views about this blog are highly welcomed.

If you have any queries regarding this blog, let us know through your comments, we will be glad to assist you.


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