EXPECTANCY EFFECT

Expectancy Effect: An Overview

The expectancy effect is a phenomenon in which individuals’ performance is affected by their expectations of the outcome. It is a type of cognitive bias in which people’s expectations and beliefs about the outcome of a situation or event can influence their actions and thus the actual outcome. The effect is widely studied in the fields of psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and economics, and has been found to play a role in many aspects of everyday life. This article provides an overview of the expectancy effect, its applications, and its implications.

Definition

The expectancy effect is defined as the phenomenon in which individuals’ performance is influenced by their expectations of the outcome. Generally, it is understood that expectations of a positive outcome lead to improved performance, while expectations of a negative outcome can lead to poorer performance. This effect has been found to play a role in decision-making processes, problem-solving, and even physiology.

Evidence

The expectancy effect has been studied in various fields, with research examining its impact in decision-making, problem-solving, and physiology. In decision-making, the effect has been shown to cause people to make different decisions depending on their expectations of the outcome. For example, a study conducted by Chen and colleagues (2010) found that people were more likely to make riskier decisions when they expected a positive outcome, and more cautious decisions when they expected a negative outcome. In problem-solving, research shows that people are more successful in solving problems when they expect to do so (Rosenbaum, 2016). Finally, evidence suggests that expectations can even affect physiological processes, such as heart rate and respiration (Gellman, 2003).

Applications

The expectancy effect has been found to have various applications, including in the fields of education, health, and marketing. In education, research suggests that expectations of success or failure can influence students’ performance, with students who expect to do well performing better than those who expect to do poorly (Eccles, 2006). In the health field, research has found that expectations of recovery from a medical procedure can impact the speed and extent of the recovery (Hagen et al., 2011). Finally, in marketing, the effect can be used to influence people’s buying decisions by emphasizing the positive aspects of a product or service.

Implications

The expectancy effect has various implications, both positive and negative. On the positive side, the effect can be used to improve performance in various areas, such as education, health, and marketing. On the negative side, it can lead to cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias, in which people search for and interpret information in a way that confirms their preconceived beliefs and expectations. Furthermore, if expectations are too high, it can lead to disappointment if the expectations are not met.

Conclusion

The expectancy effect is a phenomenon in which individuals’ performance is affected by their expectations of the outcome. It has been studied in various fields, including psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and economics, and has been found to have applications in education, health, and marketing. However, it can also lead to cognitive biases and disappointment if expectations are too high.

References

Chen, P. C., Chen, C. C., & Huang, C. Y. (2010). The expectancy effect in decision making. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31(2), 279-289.

Eccles, J. S. (2006). Expectancies, values, and academic behaviors. In A. Wigfield & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Development of achievement motivation (pp. 7-40). Academic Press.

Gellman, M. D. (2003). Expectancy effects on physiological processes: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 129(4), 848-865.

Hagen, S., Bovim, G., & Sand, T. (2011). Placebo and nocebo effects in the treatment of chronic pain. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 2(3), 117-127.

Rosenbaum, D. A. (2016). Problem solving and the expectancy effect. In D. A. Rosenbaum (Ed.), Cognitive neuroscience of problem solving (pp. 43-50). Oxford University Press.

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