Behavioral Bias: The Golem Effect
Golem Effect (via Goliath.ecnext.com) – The Golem effect is the negative or dark version of Pygmalion: behavior reflecting low or negative supervisory expectations generates negative results in subordinates’ performance. Babad, Inbar, and Rosenthal (1982) used the term Golem for this effect, drawing from Hebrew slang, where the word means oaf or fool. The term originates from Jewish legend wherein a creature was created to eradicate evil but ultimately became a monster owing to its increasingly strong, corrupting power (Collins & Pinch, 1998).
The outcome of the Golem effect is manifest either as net declines in subordinates’ performance or simply lower performance than would be otherwise attainable. With few exceptions, the majority of recent evidence in the literature is anecdotal, drawing on extrapolations from Pygmalion experiments. Even Babad et al. (1982) opted not to apply a treatment of artificially lowered teacher expectations regarding students; rather, the researchers experimentally raised teachers’ expectations toward some students and compared the performance results with students for whom teachers had either naturally occurring high or low expectations.
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