Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Topic: Processes Related To Stereotypes Mcat Wiki

Self-fulfilling prophecies refers to a phenomenon in which the expectations of a person or event unknowingly influence outcomes, leading the realization of those expectations. In particular, this occurs when there are lowered expectations that accompany negative stereotypes, which contribute to making stereotypical beliefs into reality.

Labeling theory concerns itself not with the normal roles that define our lives, but with those very special roles that society provides for deviant behavior, called deviant roles, stigmatic roles, or social stigma. A social role is a set of expectations we have about a behavior. Social roles are necessary for the organization and functioning of any society or group. We expect the postman, for example, to adhere to certain fixed rules about how he does his job.

Labeling theory hypothesizes that the labels applied to individuals influence their behavior, particularly that the application of negative or stigmatizing labels promotes deviant behavior. They become a self-fulfilling prophecy when an individual who is labeled has little choice but to conform to the essential meaning of that judgment. Consequently, labeling theory postulates that it is possible to prevent social deviance via a limited social shaming reaction in “labelers” and replace moral indignation with tolerance.

Practice Questions

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MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

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Key Points

• Labeling theory concerns itself not with the normal roles that define our lives, but with those very special roles that society provides for deviant behavior, called deviant roles, stigmatic roles, or social stigma.

• Labeling theory hypothesizes that the labels applied to individuals influence their behavior, particularly that the application of negative or stigmatizing labels promotes deviant behavior.

• Self-fulfilling prophecies refer to the stress and lowered expectations accompanying negative stereotypes contribute to making stereotypical beliefs into reality.


Key Terms

social role: labeling theory concerns itself mostly not with the normal roles that define our lives, but with those very special roles that society provides for deviant behavior, called deviant roles, stigmatic roles, or social stigma.

deviant roles: a negative role in society

labeling theory: labeling theory is closely related to social-construction and symbolic-interaction analysis.

stereotypes: concept of a group or category of people that includes the belief that all members of that group share certain characteristics.



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