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Evaluation of The Self-fulfilling Prophecy Theory

A detailed evaluation of the self-fulfilling prophecy theory. A useful tool for psychology or sociology revision.

Self-fulfilling prophecy only begins to have a noticeable effect on those people whose own views of themselves are dissimilar to the views of other people. Self-fulfilling prophecy does not explain why people who are unaffected by it still commit crime.

On the other hand studies, such as that carried out by Madon et al, give strong evidence that negative emotions can be influenced by negative expectations. Furthermore, Keddie et al’s 1971 study shows good evidence of how self-fulfilling prophecy can work in both positive and negative ways, evidence which is supported by Gillborn and Youdell’s study in 2001.

Despite these studies it is difficult to prove that self-fulfilling prophecy is the cause of criminal behaviour on account of the ethical issues involved in potentially encouraging criminal behaviour in order to test the theory.

Bandura’s 1961 study produced substantial evidence of children imitating aggressive behaviour. Self-fulfilling prophecy does not take into account the idea that criminal behaviour is simply learnt by example.

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