105 soldiers were participating in a 15 week commander training program in Israel. A psychologist informed the training officers who would be leading the program that they had assembled comprehensive information about each of the soldiers. Each soldier had been classified into one of 3 potential “Command Potential” categories: 1.) High Potential, 2.) Regular Potential, or 3.) Unknown – due to insufficient information. The soldiers were placed into these categories through a series of psychological tests, sociometric data from the previous course, and previous officer ratings. The training officers were requested to learn the names of each soldier who would be in his command and his “CP” rating before the program started. When the program began, the soldiers were divided into groups with even numbers of high, regular, and unknown CP soldiers.
After the 15 week program ended, the officers confirmed that those soldiers who were placed in the highest “CP” category were in fact the ones who had performed the best.
Here’s the catch. The “CP” (command potential) ratings were not actually assigned based upon any data at all. They were actually selected at random.
Those soldiers who were seen as having high potential ultimately lived up to the expectations of their commanding officers. When the officers were told about the random selections, they argued with the psychologists and defended their position – they truly believed that there must have been actual data used to reach those conclusions.
I wonder how many of the “regular CP” or “unknown CP” soldiers actually had a lot of potential too? I wonder what effect lower expectations have upon someone?
PS – This example was also from the book “Sway” by Ori and Rom Brafman. If you like this kind of stuff, you should check it out.
Expectations Matter. Part 1 – Two words matter. (This will be a short series of posts.)
Check out this psychological test!
A professor doesn’t show up to teach one day @ MIT. The students are told there will be a substitute and they are each given a short bio describing their sub. It reads:
“Mr. ___________ is a graduate student in the department of economics and social science here at MIT. He has had 3 semesters of teaching experience in psychology at another college. This is his 1st semester teaching this class. He is 26 yrs old, a veteran, and married. People who know him consider him to be a very warm person, industrious, critical, practical, and determined.”
Now, here’s the catch. Although they believed that everyone was reading the same bio, only half of the class got this bio. The other half got the same bio with two different words. The words “very warm” were replaced with “rather cold.” The last line of the 2nd one read, “People who know him consider him to be a rather cold person, industrious, critical, practical, and determined.”
After sitting in and viewing the exact same teacher under the exact same circumstances, the students were given a short questionnaire about the sub. By their responses, you’d think they had experienced two completely different classes with two different teachers. The students who got the “warm” bio, loved him. Their descriptions were: good-natured, considerate of others, informal, sociable, popular, humorous, and humane. The 2nd group with the “cold” bio described him as: self-centered, formal, unsociable, irritable, humorless, and ruthless.
Two words have the power to change our perceptions and possibly destroy a relationship before it even begins.
The example above is from the book “Sway” by Ori and Rom Brafman. I will be using a few more of their examples throughout this short series of posts. You should check out their book. It’s great stuff!
They call this effect the “diagnosis sway.” Once someone has “diagnosed” another person, it’s very difficult for them to let go of their perception and they will view every interaction with them through this lens. This is what happened to the students. The bios gave them a pre-determined diagnosis and so they viewed everything about the substitute through this lens – picking up subtle nuances and perceptions which would support their diagnosis. This is why first impressions are so important. Once someone has diagnosed you, they will see only those characteristics which will support their first impression diagnosis.
I wanted to write this series of posts because we’ve been talking about expectations in my teacher’s alternative certification classes. Teachers can be “swayed” or have the wrong expectations of a student for many reasons. At the beginning of the year a teacher may be tempted to talk to the students previous teachers to find out what he/she is like, but I’d say they should refrain. A student should have the opportunity to “start over” each year. The new teacher should be willing to “draw their own conclusions” without the influence of others.
“Stand and Deliver” is one of the great movies about teaching. This is the teacher hero’s secret. He has higher expectations of his students. He has not diagnosed them as average or incapable, but instead he sees the possibilities within them and encourages them. Expectations matter.
I’ve been learning a few things over the past couple of days. We had to bring Kesleigh, our 4 week old baby girl, into Houston to the Texas Children’s Hospital last night. She’s was already on antibiotics and was running a fever of 101.5. By the time we got to the hospital, it was 103.1. Scary. . .they rushed her in to a doctor and began the process. I hate emergency rooms, ’cause I hate waiting in them – this time we didn’t wait, but it was still worse than any other time I’ve been in one. (I’d rather have had to wait ’cause that means it would have been a more minor thing.) Anyway, I had a moment last night, and a few times throughout the day today where God seemed to be speaking to me. He has been showing me over and over, that there’s nothing I can do. I’m her father. I’m supposed to cherish her, and protect her, and lead her, and keep her safe. But I’m no good – the bottom line is that I can’t do anything. Prayer is all I’ve got. God is all I’ve got. Ultimately, it’s completely in God’s hands. I trust Him and have tried to do so throughout my Christian life, but it never gets easier. Trusting Him with my baby girl?!?! That’s too precious. I don’t think I can do it. I can’t let go of her. I’m responsible. I’m her father. I’m supposed to protect her. I confess. I’ve probably held on too tightly to both she and my son Kasen. Maybe this whole experience is something God is gonna use to remind me that they’re really better off in His hands than mine anyway. He’s the one with all the power to actually do something. What can I offer? Ultimately, very little. . . . Unless I’m praying. Then I’m offering Him. Then I’m offering power. . . ultimate power. . . healing power. . .redemptive power!!
OK so now, we’re waiting. Kesleigh has had blood, urine, and even spinal fluid drawn. They are keeping her temperature down with tylenol and we’re waiting . . . 48 hrs for the tests to come back. We’re 24 hrs in and the cultures are all negative so far. (Thank you God!) Another 24 with clear cultures, and a few hours with no temp without tylenol and we might be on our way home tomorrow. That’s our hope. That’s our prayer. . . . I’m scared to even type this. . . .but I have to. . . . can I do it? . . . .
I trust You God and I know that You know my heart in this, but I’m also smart enough to know that I don’t know everything. My prayers might not be what’s best for Kesleigh. Or maybe You just want to use her situation to glorify Yourself in some other way. . . so God. . . . with fear and trembling. . . and faith . . . I’m praying for You to do whatever You want to do with her. I’m gonna do my best to trust and to stand by You no matter what the outcome. I’m placing her in Your hands. She is truly Yours anyway and I know she’s better off with You. Help me to understand my role and to be the father that You’re calling me to be. Help me to truly represent You to her. AMEN.
PS – I wish I could communicate the number of tears shed in praying that prayer – in letting go of my baby – and the truth is, even with my tears and all my sincerity, I know there’s more “letting go” to do. I’m still holding on. Maybe this is a good first step though?
Last night I took a final exam for my Theology class. The whole thing was really scary for me since it’s been 15 years or more since I was even in school. I’m a bit out of the habit of homework, studying, and test-taking. Anyway, I was also really pretty nervous about it all ’cause Dr. Loken gave us a quiz 2 weeks ago with 20 questions. Out of the 20, I think I got about 8 of them right. So I studied by typing up and reading through the questions that we had for our homework, and it paid off.
When Dr. Loken passed out the test and I started taking it, I was relieved ’cause I felt like I knew every answer. I also felt like I was kinda rushing through the whole thing with some sort of nervous energy. (It’s a bit strange that I can stand in front of hundreds of people and not be nervous, but sitting alone at a table with a test in front of me. . . . .) I literally laughed at some of the questions and even enjoyed the test as I was taking it. (One of the questions asked which of the 4 sins listed was not included in the 10 commandments, and the correct answer was “being a Dallas Cowboys fan.) We had an hour to take the test and about 20 minutes into it, I was finished. I looked around the room and no one else had finished, but I didn’t want to go back through and start second guessing myself so I just turned it in.
Later, when we graded it, I realized I had missed one question. I got 99 out of 100 right! I guess being old and going to school at my age isn’t such a bad idea. As a matter of fact, I feel like I’m really enjoying the process this time around. I still don’t like all the homework and I’m not sure how I’m gonna be able to keep up with it all and still work my more-than-full-time job. But I guess one day at a time is all I can do.
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for being with me yesterday in the midst of the test and for my beautiful bride and the patience she’s had with me in regards to these classes. Lead us as we figure out how to build our relationship with all my new school related responsibilities. Thank you for Dr. Loken who has taught me and helped me prepare for the test. Thank you for the guys who wrote the books we’ve been studying and for the way that You have moved throughout history to bring each of these men to a place that they would become your servants. As they have served You, I have been served too. Allow me Lord to take these things I have learned and serve You with them as those who have gone before me have done.