Something that one is afraid that will happen, and most likely will be unknowingly caused by oneself.

I always blab on about being terminally single and wanting not to be that way, but yet if some girl tries to be my friend, I push them off and I give them a warning not to piss me off because they remind me of the scum that picked on me everyday.

That is a self-fulfilling prophecy in my personal life.

The best example of this that I can think of is when from the Matrix. When Neo was visiting the Oracle, she said to him "Don't worry about the vase". Neo's response was to say Keanu Reeves's trademarked "Wha?" and turn slightly, knocking over said vase. By giving the prophecy, the events described in it will occur.

This is also a term used by some social revolutionaries and critics to explain why many youths do not rise above the abysmal expectations placed upon them. For example, if all that is expected of a young man or woman is little to nothing, then they will achieve little to nothing. This theory explains that people who are expected to fail will fail and that whatever the level of standards that we set both for other people and ourselves could very possibly be the ceiling of our achievement.

A prophecy that comes true, simply because of the fact that it has been made; one of the primary ways that the media influence society by preying on people's desire to be where the action is and follow trends. For instance, if a large number of stock analysists pick FOO as a "rising stock" for the week, sure enough, the price will go up because everyone wants FOO because it's a rising stock. If a few public figures start wearing clothing label BAZ because they say they're the coming new trend, then sure enough, they will be the coming new trend because everyone wants to wear BAZ like these public figures.

binarydreams: the "perfect example" you give is not a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Oracle makes the statement knowing that it will be come true. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that the prophet is not absolutely sure will come true, but by the mere fact that (s)he makes it, assures its outcome. It's not a prophecy if you know it's going to happen.
A sociological theory extended from W.I. Thomas' definition of the situation ("If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.")

Although many use this term in several generalized instances, the sociological definition actually states that a "self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when a false definiton of a situation evokes a new behavior that makes the originally false conception come true." (Judson R. Landis, 2001.)

An example of this was illustrated by psychologist Robert Rosenthal, who performed an experiment in which a teacher was told that a certain group of her students were incredibly smart. In fact, these children had average IQ and average performance in earlier grades, and they were no smarter than the rest of the children in the class. Rosenthal tested all the children later in the year and asked the teacher to give evaluations. In both tests AND recommendations, these students showed that they had made greater progress, were more interested, and had made greater leaps in intelligence.

Another example, a la Rosenthal: twelve students were given 5 rats each. 6 of the students were told that their rats were genetically superior and would be extremely talented at getting through a maze. The other 6 students were told that their rats were lazy, stupid, and inferior. Of course, there was no difference in intellect or capacity for learning between any of the rats; they had all been picked at random. The result? Even at the very beginning of the training process, the "smart" rats performed better. By the end of the training, there was a marked difference between the abilities and personalities of the rats in each group.

The explanation that sociologists have created for this theory is that once a label is placed on someone, people tend to believe that this label is true and will respond to a labeled individual as if the label were true. The individual, upon subconsciously recognizing the changes in behavior of the others towards him or herself, will adjust her behavior accordingly, and the label will actually BECOME true.

My own hypothetical example. Suppose that my boyfriend and I get in a horrible fight and he calls me a slut and tells me there is nothing good about my except my willingness to reveal my body. I am very hurt and depressed and, after noting his actions of rejection, start wearing revealing tank tops and short-shorts in desperation. Other people, then notice my change in behavior and begin to think of me as a slut (Let's hope this never happens.)

Hypothetical example 2. An average student is told by his parents that he is horrible at math. He considers his recent test scores and notes that although there are good grades, there are a couple failures among them. Every failure that he gets counts against him. Eventually, this student gives up trying in a subject that he is so decidedly horrible at. His A and B grades change to Fs... he is now ACTUALLY bad at math.

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