Behavioral Bias: The Golem Effect


Golem Effect (via –  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.

Relevant Academic Papers:

1. Restraining the Golem: boosting performance by changing the interpretation of low scores – Via Cat.Inist

2. Inside the Golem Effect: How Bosses Can Kill Their Subordinates’ Motivation – Via Insead

3. The Role of Golem, Pygmalion, and Galatea Effects on Opportunistic Behavior in the Classroom – Via Sagepub

About Miguel Barbosa

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14. December 2009 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Behavioral Economics, Curated Readings | Leave a comment

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