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Grant Miller: Managerial Incentives in Public Service Delivery

Self-Fulfilling prophecies, perceptual biases, and accuracy at the individual and group levels

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Smith, A.E., L. Jussim, Jacquelynne S. Eccles, M. VanNoy, S. Madon, and P. Palumbo. 1998. "Self-Fulfilling prophecies, perceptual biases, and accuracy at the individual and group levels." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 34(6), 530-561.

We examined ability grouping as a moderator of self-fulfilling prophecies in two ways. First, we examined ability group moderation for individual students with data from 1701 students and 97 teachers from sixth-grade math classes. Second, we examined ability group moderation at the class level with data from 108 sixth-grade math classes. Across both sets of analyses, results showed that: (1) teacher perceptions predicted student achievement primarily because those perceptions were accurate; (2) teacher perceptions biased marks for students in heterogenous classes (consistent with perceptual bias); and (3) self-fulfilling prophecies were strongest when students were grouped within classes. We also found that teacher perceptions mediated the relationship between within-class ability grouping and student achievement. Implications for understanding accuracy, the power of self-fulfilling prophecies, and group level perceptions are discussed.

DOI:10.1006/jesp.1998.1363 (Full Text)

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