Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Thousand Little Reasons: Set Higher Expectations


There’s a classic set of psychological studies that were featured on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday. The studies found that teachers’ expectations of students were found to be a greater predictor of achievement than baseline IQ scores. In other words, the teacher’s perceptions of the students (i.e., that they were bound to succeed) influenced how well the students actually performed.

This relationship held true even among students whose baseline IQ scores were low! The reason why can be attributed to a 1000 little reasons instead of any one big reason. For example, if teacher knows that Johny is “Harvard Bound,” then his pause before giving an answer will be interpreted as Johny’s thoughtfulness, not that he’s clueless and really doesn’t know the answer–Next!
This got me thinking about the expectations that we set for ourselves, our teams, and our co-workers. Are we setting our expectations high enough? How are we interpreting others’ subtle performance ques: how people show up to meetings? Comments they make? The quality of their output?
How are your expectations and 1000 little reasons impacting your results?