Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Richard Wikoff

Second Advisor

Wayne Harrison

Third Advisor

James M. Thomas


The phenomenon labeled "self-fulfilling prophecy” is one of the most widely researched areas of psychology (Miller & Turnbull, 1986). However, even after more than three decades of research related to the effects of expectancies, opinion about the importance and even the existence of selffulfilling prophecy is mixed (Jussim, 1991). Effect sizes are often small (Rosenthal & Rubin, 1978; Jussim, 1991), but even small effects cannot always be considered inconsequential. In certain settings small effects of invalid expectancies may rob individuals of opportunities to which they are entitled. Accordingly, this study was undertaken to evaluate the moderating effects of personality on the likelihood of expectancies influencing perceptions and behaviors in a simulated selection setting, one area in which even small effects may violate individuals rights to an unbiased evaluation. Expectancy effects were examined within high-, low-, and no-expectancy conditions involving two-member teams of undergraduate volunteers. Subjects were randomly assigned to the role of selector or applicant in a task designed to evaluate the applicant for a competitive game. Selectors were identified as either high or low need to achieve (nAch) and applicants were identified as either high or low self-conscious. Results indicated that the effect on the behavior of an applicant was consistent with selector expectancies, particularly if the selector was high nAch. The effect on selector ratings of applicants was consistent with selector expectancies, particularly with high nAch selectors and high self-conscious applicants. A three-way interaction of applicant self-consciousness by selector nAch by expectancy was found for applicant ratings of task enjoyment and willingness to participate. Means were in the direction predicted by selector expectancies only for dyads consisting of a high self-conscious applicant and a high nAch selector. Post-hoc analysis of high- versus low-expectancy conditions confirmed the importance of expectancy and selector nAch on the behavior of applicants and expectancy on selector ratings of applicant ability and willingness to recommend.

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