“If you ever ‘graduate’ to classroom children, please let me know whether I can be of assistance,” she wrote. Splash and Backlash Rosenthal and Jacobson would later collaborate on a book on their famous study — disguising the school’s location by referring to it as “the Oak School.” In the weeks leading up to the 1968 publication of the book, show. “Pygmalion is so defective technically that one can only regret that it ever got beyond the eyes of the original investigators!” wrote Columbia University’s Robert Thorndike, an expert in educational and psychological testing and one of several prestigious scholars who lambasted Rosenthal’s project.
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The Test of Inflected Acquisition was just a standard IQ test. It was the teachers’ belief in their pupils’ potential, not any innate advantage, that spurred the students to achieve. “Later I understood why he needed to fool us.” Rosenthal struck gold with his now-famous findings.
His study survived an extraordinary storm of controversy to become one of the most inspiring and widely cited breakthroughs in the history of psychology.
The youngest of them made the most dramatic gains: On average, these first-graders increased their IQ scores by more than 27 points.
Only then were Cantello and her colleagues informed that Rosenthal had not told the truth. ’ ” recalls Cantello, now retired, on a recent afternoon in her sunny kitchen in San Rafael, Calif.
Half a century later, however, and to the frustration of many enthusiasts, this promise remains mostly a tantalizing possibility.
“The Pygmalion Effect is great science that is underapplied,” complains retired Tel Aviv University Professor Dov Eden, who has been a career-long Pygmalion evangelist as a management consultant and psychologist for the Israel Defense Forces.
Beverly Cantello didn’t appreciate being misled — at least, not at first. Cantello was 23 years old and just starting out in her teaching career when a Harvard psychologist named Robert Rosenthal came to her elementary school.
The principal announced that she’d given Rosenthal permission to administer a fancy-sounding new IQ test to the school’s students that spring.
But, as Rosenthal predicted, the “maze-bright” rats ran the maze faster and more accurately than the dull rats.
Perhaps the rats gained an edge because of the way the keepers anticipated the rats’ behavior.
Similarly, the researcher’s deception gave a new lease on life to the lucky “bloomers.” Many came from low-income Mexican families, and already by first grade they had been “tracked,” according to teachers’ expectations of their future performance.