It’s the Little Things that make the BIG Difference

In your blog post, react to what you saw in the videos, reflect on your own interactions with educators throughout your school career, and discuss what, if any, changes to the school system based on the concepts in these videos could improve students’ performance in the classroom.

Were we born smart? Or do we learn and develop intelligence, constantly being shaped and supported by our environment and the people around us? In the three videos shown above, different aspects of effects are explored- showing how children can be impacted and grow according to how others interact and treat them.

In the first video called Pygmalion Effect and the Power of Positive Expectations, there was a study done where a test was done with school teachers- a list of students that were labeled “late bloomers” that they were treated differently and were transformed by teacher’s positive expectations. The Pygmalion Effect is the concept of a person having the potential to be transformed into something great. Teachers expectations actually had a huge impact on pupil’s intellectual performances. 4 factors of self fulfilling- teachers do these differently if they have favorable expectations: 1) warmer climate- nicer to them, 2) input factor- teachers teach more material to kids who they have better expectations for, 3) opportunity factor- call on those students more and allow to let them talk more and lastly, 4) feedback factor- favored kid is praised more and gets more positive reinforcement and also differentiated feedback when they get a wrong answer. If a “bad” answer is ignored then they might not favor those kids. I could really relate to this first video. Often, more than not, I have felt inferior to some of my peers and could feel differences in behaviors toward me by my school teachers. I envied students who got what I felt like was special treatment. Those kids were treated better, were taught more with more eye contact, (almost as if I was not there), were called to answer questions more often, and got the most praise and adulation. When I didn’t get called on even after raising my hand up, or when my answers didn’t get much feedback, positive or negative, I felt neglected and a little less confident in my abilities and I believe that this feeling has been carried down with me throughout high school and even up to now. It is great to see what these micro actions can do to a kid in a positive manner. At the same time, it is disheartening to know the kids who are left out of this potential growth and nourishment.

In the second video called Stereotype Threat – social psychology in action, threats of stereotypes are explored. An experiment of black and white students were told to be tested of athletic aptitude. When told one test was one of athletic ability, African Americans did better on scores than white students. When told that the test was of sport strategy, White American subjects did better on scores. Stereotypes here seem to have subconsciously got to the students, making them believe that they were less apt at either strategy or athleticism. This intimidating society made construct is regularly present in every day life and it is eye opening to see how even if we say we don’t believe in the stereotypes, we actually do.

My favorite video by far was the Jane Elliott Brown Eyes vs Blue Eyes. This video told of a study Jane Elliot, an elementary school teacher, who did a demonstration showing what discrimination was and really felt like. It showed that negative expectations could really shape students’ realities. Prejudice is easy to create and a new reality could be easily made on differences between students. The teacher Jane Elliot said that the blue eyed people were “better” and “smarter” than brown eyed people. She told of people in history and said that those with blue eyed people were better. She told the blue eyed people not to play with brown eyed people. The brown eyed students talked about not feeling like they belonged  and how they didn’t wish to participate in anything. Fighting actually occurred as a name that was used to call the kids in a derogatory manner was “brown eyes.” Children turned nasty, viscious and discriminating in just 15 minutes. When asked about the experience afterwards, the blue eyed said that they felt better than the brown eyed people. This was crazy to me. The lesson was that any cues of facial features could be basis of demonstrating and values could be added. 1- Any difference that is visible can be used by others to make people make worthless. 2- The brown eyed people when this flipped, kids didn’t learn compassion but learned about power and used it on the people who once tormented them. Revenge was more powerful than reconciliation. 3- inferior position set grades went down and superior position grades went up. Your intellect and performance is actually influenced by your attitude toward yourself. 4- All this can make people feel worthless. This was reminiscent to what I felt like was the German treatment of Jewish people in the Holocaust as well as pre- civil rights movement era.

With all this being said, I believe that schools should really take these factors into consideration and see how the way teachers treat their students really affect them. Also, for schools to note how stereotypes are very harmful and should be avoided being used in negative ways. Differences should be celebrated and appreciated. Lastly, telling kids that one was better than the other is never the right way to go as the kids may start to truly believe that they are worth “less” than others.



Week 9: Intelligence

When we talk about intelligence my brain instantly triggers me to think of someone who is not “naturally smart”, to me intelligence represents someone who has been shaped by their experiences and has gained knowledge through their failure. I personally think that social experiences and our surroundings play a greater role in our intelligence than our genetics do. I have always thought that everyone has the ability to be intelligent if they work hard enough to achieve what they want. Some people become disappointed when they do not receive a high score on an exam even though they did not put in the effort to achieve a high score. I think that perception is very important because like the Pygmalion effect demonstrated, if others have high expectations of ourselves then that will influence how we also perceive ourselves, and it will trigger us to do what it takes to meet those standards. I think that this applies to me because I am a pre-med student. Even though, I chose my own career path I still work harder each day in order to “make my parents proud”, as a pre-med student they have really high expectations for me. At times these high standards do become overwhelming because when I get a low score on an exam it makes me question what they will think of my intelligence and it triggers me to reconsider if I am truly smart enough to be on this path.

Another way that social experiences shape our intelligence is through stereotypes and discrimination. In my point-of-view I think that the brown eye vs. blue eye experiment that Jane Elliot did with her students was highly unethical. In my point she did not have the need to put those children through all that hatred against one another, but her study did show that power is what drives discrimination. That need to feel superior and more intelligent is what has driven our country to be facing issues related to discrimination even now in 2017. feeling inferior can definitely take a toll on how we perceive ourselves. If others consider us to be inferior that can start causing us to worry less of our performance because there are no standards to be met. This also ties in with the stereotype threat. Sometimes people’s fear of failure and discrimination is what causes them to perform badly on a given task. I can relate to this because many times I am scared to answer out-loud in class when I am hesitant of an answer because I am scared of people laughing or making correlations between my ethnicity and my level of intelligence.

Even though genetics can play a role on how intelligent we are I think that humans are more widely defined/shaped by their social experiences and their interactions with their environment. In a way being seen as more intelligent will make us feel that way which in the long run can cause us to be more adapted to our surroundings.

Conditioning Performance

In Jane Elliot’s classic brown eyes/blue eyes experiment, a third grade teacher convinced her class that people with blue eyes were superior to people with brown eyes. Soon enough, the children began teasing each other, and the children that were deemed superior discriminated against the children that were deemed inferior. After enough time had passed, the children’s test scores reflected what group they were placed in. The “inferior” children scored lower than the “superior” children. One can quickly see how this experiment ties into issues, like socioeconomic status.

The stereotype threat is the idea that the pressure negative stereotypes place on individuals is so great that it adversely affects their performance. The main fear is that one will fulfill, or be reduced to, a negative stereotype. This relates back to Jane Elliot’s idea of “if you are told you will perform poorly, you will believe in that statement and perform poorly”. This can even apply to good stereotypes too. Many times Asian Americans are expected to be gifted in STEM fields and classically trained in piano. Their hard work to attain a high level of achievement in these fields is often overlooked. These achievements are often attributed to their race, rather than their work ethic or goal-oriented mindset.

Finally, the Pygmalion effect describes a predictable pattern: students that are told by teachers that they will perform well often times do. Teachers allocate more time and energy to the students they feel are the most deserving of it. This can cause other students to feel as if they are of less value, ultimately hurting their performance.

I thought the videos all displayed the same general idea: your performance can be controlled by the expectations of others. Although we can teach students to talk kindly to one another, and we can educate teachers to not discriminate, we are only ignoring the root cause of the problem. We need to acknowledge that differences naturally exist between individuals, and many of them are arbitrary; they are not an indication of character or intelligence. Although I believe in this cause, there are few times where the Pygmalion effect and historical discrimination have negatively impacted how others have perceived me. As I’m sure with many other people at Austin College, I was told I was going to college from an early age. The idea of not going to college never crossed my mind. I had teachers and family members cheer me on as I worked to fulfill their expectations of me. I couldn’t imagine getting to where I am today without the help of a lot of people. It can be exhausting to be the only one that believes in yourself, which is why many people tire out and quit. Within the last century, America has made incredible amounts of progress, as far as tolerance of other people is concerned. No where else in the world can we find so many different people getting along so well. Change came quickly at first, but now it seems to be plateauing. We have to constantly feed the fire of change or else it dies out. We can’t become complacent with the progress we’ve made so far.


In the video for Brown Eyes vs Blue Eyes, Jane Elliot conducted an experiment dealing with the discrimination and how it affects others in society.For example, in the video she divided the class in two separate sections.One with brown eyes and the other with blue eyes. She told the kids that the children with blue eyes are more superior than the children with brown eyes. This caused a conflict with how the kids behaved in recess causing one of the kids to hurt another kid because he felt offended. The kids with brown eyes did not like the discrimination and when the kids grew up, they came to a reunion with their 3rd grade teacher. One of the students at the reunion felt hatred towards Jane Elliot because she did not like the idea of using discrimination for learning purposes. This experiment led for the student’s learning experience to be affected by how they are treated. When they are treated badly or hated by others it can cause low results in school grades but if they are treated as they are part of society they will have better grades. The self esteem affects the student’s behavior and learning abilities.I have not had that experience in school but if it did happen to me I would be disgusted. The students should learn in an environment where its not as discriminatory or full of hatred so they feel comfortable to focus in their education.

The Stereotype Threat video was about how stereotypes are used to show what advantages and disadvantages the people have. In the video it showed that the instructor of the test was going to test the athletes in their athletic abilities and the second test was about using strategy for sports. The African Americans did better in the athletic ability test than the white athletes but the white athletes did better in the second test dealing with strategies in sports. This stereotyped test showed intimidation on a person’s weakness making the test takers do bad on the test or good depending on their weaknesses. I believe stereotype threats are not a good idea because it can cause negative effects. The school can improve by mixing topics into one whole lecture.

The Pygmalion Effect and the Power of Expectations video explains the reason why children who have potential in learning do much better than those who don’t have the same potential.Children who are more knowledgeable receive more attention from the teachers because he or she is willing to learn the material.A kid with a low effort of learning doesn’t receive the same amount of attention than the kids who do learn more.In schools there are kids willing to learn and others that don’t want to learn. This could be improved by having tutorials and paying more attention in class when having trouble with a subject in class and motivating them to do better instead of putting them down.




In Jane Elliott’s classic blue eyes/brown eyes experiment, Elliot assigned students in her class to “superior” and “inferior” groups based on their eye color. Having blue eyes placed the student in the superior group and having brown eyes placed the student in the inferior group. Elliot was trying to explain to her all white classroom what racism feels like after Martin Luther King’s assassination. The blue-eyed students even had the opportunity to place a collar on the brown eyed students, so the students could tell what color eyes the students had from far away. Two students got in a fight after a student called another student “brown eyes”. I thought this was the saddest part of the video because in the short time of the experiment, the students could recognize a part of their physical complexion as negative. Elliot remarked that she learned more from the cruelty of the blue-eyed children as soon as they were told they were superior than from the brown-eyed children. Zimbardo noted that minimal cues can become the basis of discrimination when an authority imposes a negative attribute with the trait, that when brown-eyed students were placed in superior, they treated the blue-eyed students with the same cruelty, and that when in the inferior group, the math and spelling scores of the students went down. I think its incredibly sad that these students could foster discrimination so quickly and that the students were willing to turn on their friends for something like eye color. I think it is incredibly telling that students performed worse on tests after being told that they were more likely to perform poorly than other students.


The video of Claude Steele explaining stereotype threat asserts that the anxiety of possibly being seen as fitting a negative stereotype when taking a performance test. In a test of that was labeled as testing “athletic ability”, African American athletes performed better than white athletes, but in a test labeled as testing “sports strategy”, the white athletes performed better than the African American athletes. This shows how stereotypes impact performance based tests. It makes sense to me that stereotypes influence these tests, and I think it is upsetting that people underperform because of societal pressure. The Rosenthal & Jacobson’s discovery of the Pygmalion effect video showed how students can be transformed by a teacher’s positive perception of them. Rosenthal and Jacobson told teachers that randomly chosen students were going to increase their intelligence levels, and the kids who were chosen actually did show intellectual gains. The four factors that lead to this were climate, input, response opportunity, and feedback. I think it is very clear that teachers have favorites or students that they perceive as better, and it makes sense that these students would perform better. Personally, I have always done better in classes where I like the teacher and feel that the teacher likes me, so this form of self-fulfilling prophecy is very accurate.


I definitely was treated as a “gifted student” in elementary and middle school, and I completely believe that this expectation positively influenced me throughout my education. I think the way a teacher treats a student highly influences a student’s performance. In regard to changing the school system because of these videos, I would suggest a very strong anti-discrimination stance and an emphasis on teachers using positive encouragement to all students on a more equalized basis. If there was a way to decrease class sizes, it would help teachers give each student positive and individual attention. At the moment, I think the school system does have systemic issues that lead to discrimination influencing performance.


Week 9 First Impression

This week in psychology, we are discussing the fascinating topic of learning and intelligence. I chose to answer the first prompt which required me to watch three short videos. These videos examined Jane Elliott’s “blue eyes vs. brown eyes” experiment, stereotype threat, and the Pygmalion effect.

I found the video discussing Jane Elliott’s experiment to be particularly disturbing. The footage of the children interacting with each other in a discriminatory manner based purely of the color of their eyes was bizarre especially since they had no previous major conflicts amongst themselves. It didn’t really come as a surprise that discrimination and negative expectation can play a powerful role in education. I have a sister with dyslexia and before we realized that we were growing increasingly concerned about her reading and spelling performance in school. Unfortunately, her spiraling grades and our worry gave her the impression that she was just bad at reading and that we all expected her to do poorly so she started soring even lower. She is doing much better now that the issue has been diagnosed and she’s is getting the assistance she needs but we are still careful to make sure she understands that a poor performance is not due to inherent weakness but, instead, being unprepared.

Stereotype effect was interesting to me because at first I wasn’t really sure it would work. I thought that if you were aware of certain stereotypes that you would work harder to prove people wrong and that it would be a benefit but after watching the video I can understand how that kind of unnecessary pressure could work against you. In my own education, I experienced stereotype effect in English. We were often told that girls were generally better writers because they were more eloquent and creative when writing than boys were. This frustrated me and in trying to prove otherwise, I would often go over the top making my writing unnecessarily complicated and lengthy. This unfortunately meant that a lot of what I wrote was superfluous and wasn’t well received by teachers which only reinforced the stereotype and my frustration. Thankfully, I’ve managed to overcome that for the most part and choose my words more carefully.

The Pygmalion effect was, perhaps, the topic that resonated the most with my own experience with the education system. From my early years in elementary school through high school, most all of my teachers gave me a significant amount of attention compared to my peers. I had, at the very least, amicable relationships with my teachers and they all treated me warmly. I received positive feedback for work well done and, more importantly, a lot of constructive feedback when something was done wrong. I often felt as though I had a responsibility to do well since a teacher would invest so much time and energy trying to help me improve. This was a significant motivator for me throughout my schooling that continues to affect my education today. In general, I try and make sure I do well on everything in my classes. Otherwise, I feel as though I am disappointing my professors and mentors.

In regard to improving the education system, I think that there are a few key points to take away from these videos. First, teachers should work to limit or remove negative expectations in the classroom. Second, special care should be given to what a teacher says in order to avoid reinforcing or triggering stereotype threat especially before an assessment of any type. Finally, teachers should try to have positive expectations for all of their students in order to help all of their students reach their potential.

Cool School

For this weeks blog i watched three very interesting videos about children’s performances in academic settings. The first video was Jane Elliot’s brown eyes vs. blue eyes experiment. The idea behind the experiment was to see how children responded to being designated as inferior and how that affected their personality and ability to learn. The children designated as inferior were picked on by the other children and performed poorly on the test in school. In the second video, a group of black and white athletes took a test to determine their ability at playing golf. When the group was told the test was focused on strategy, the white athletes performed better than the black athletes, and when they were told the test was focused on athletic ability, the black athletes performed better than the white athletes. Finally, the last video centered on the Pygmalion effect. Teachers were convinced by a fake study that certain children in the class were going to get smarter even if they had showed very little academic progress recently, and thus the children did learn more in class because the teacher’s attitude toward the children changed in a such a way as to allow the children to acquire the material taught in class.

All of this information tells me that a person’s environment can greatly influence the way in which they learn. Having a safe and relaxing environment, such as the one shown in the Pygmalion study, can help people learn, while negative environments, such as the one shown by the brown eye vs blue eye study, can cause people to struggle with class material and fulfill certain stereotypes. I feel that my personal experience with teachers has always been positive. I cannot recollect any single teacher that mad me doubt myself or my abilities and this could partially be the reason why I have always succeed in my classes. I believe that the best way to teach a student is to always believe in the student’s ability. having a teaching program that focuses more on building up a students confidence in their ability to learn the material is something to strive for.

Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Experiment

From what I saw of the video in the class of third graders, I found it amazing that in the span of fifteen minutes a class of sweet kids all turned on each other and felt that they had authority over someone else, just because brown eyes were considered a negative trait to have.  The children with brown eyes were ostracized from their blue-eyed friends, considered to be less intelligent, were picked on, and avoided doing anything to do better in school because all they would be were simple brown eyed kids.  On the other hand, blue-eyed children were lead to believe that they were smarter, more desirable to be around, and had better self-esteem than their brown-eyed classmates.  When Jane Elliot switched the importance of the eye colors around (now the brown-eyed kids had the upper hand), it would make sense for them to have compassion towards the people who oppressed them, since they wouldn’t want to make people feel the way they did.  Sadly, both eye colors wanted power and authority and not reconciliation.  Growing up in a private Christian school during my elementary years was especially hard for me since I wasn’t like every other kid.  My parents were divorced, I was a tomboy, and I was painfully shy and never really participated in class.  Of course, the children didn’t have a problem with me and I had made lasting friendships over the years, but the parents were concerned about having their children hanging around someone who was a child of divorce which made me and my mother look inferior to other families.  Even the teachers didn’t think highly of me because how poorly I did in math, and they assumed I wasn’t smart because of one subject I didn’t like to study.  Like in the experiment where the children in the video when they were given the negative trait had less belief in themselves because of what other people say and believe about them, based on factors that are out of that child’s control such as their ethnicity or economic background.  What I would like to be see done in the education system, public or private, is to have different styles of teaching for children who struggle with the traditional visual and verbal methods.  This would have children more confident in their abilities and have a higher self-esteem, despite their appearance or what people would say about them.  As Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Week 9 First Impression- Intelligence

The classroom is meant to be a comfortable, safe, and encouraging environment for learning. I think the conditions of this environment are increasingly important for younger children in elementary school. Younger children have not completely established their sense of self/worth and can be influenced very easily.

Watching the three videos about stereotypes, discrimination, and expectations really made me reflect on my own experiences in school.  I do remember two specific teachers that seemed to believe in the potential I had. I remember I hated reading because I thought I was an extremely slow reader and struggled to put words together. In the first grade, during reading time, the teacher would occasionally stop by my corner of the carpet and would ask me to read to her. If I struggled with something, she would help me through the word and remind me of all the little rules. I remember feeling  so embarrassed at the fact that I could not read a word and she would patiently sit there, smile, and help me sound out the letters. She most likely had an expectation for me and wanted me to succeed. As Dr. Philip Zimbardo discussed, the input factor was present. My teacher spent more time with me teaching me how to read so that I could do better. The factor of feedback was also present since my teacher corrected my reading and did not allow me to continue misreading words on my own. This ultimately encouraged me to grow fond of reading and improve my abilities.

The stereotype threat is another very real factor in the school system. I’m hispanic and frequently encounter people that have already made a judgement on my abilities because of my race. Most people believe that hispanics only have certain jobs and are not able to pursue other careers such as medicine. I have met many hispanics that are not planning on going to college simply because they believe “college is not for them” and they would not be able to do well. If anything, these stereotypes have only pushed me to excel and do the best that I can.

It is difficult to provide a solution that will remedy these issues in the school system. There are steps, however, that can be taken to increase the likelihood of a child excelling in school. Since feedback and input have a large effect on learning, classroom sizes could be reduced. This is obviously difficult since it would require more faculty and possibly larger buildings. By having a smaller number of students, the teacher can interact with each student individually giving them the input they need and also sensing where they need more help. As I went through middle school, bullying prevention programs began to grow. This is also very useful since it can help a child who is experiencing discrimination in the classroom. Having faculty who are willing to actively prevent discrimination and negative stereotyping could also improve education. Ultimately, if a teacher demonstrates that she cares for the child and believes in their own unique ability, it can make a world of difference.



Brown eyes vs blue eyes: Jane Elliot, a third grade teacher decided to teach her class what arbitrary discrimination felt like. In the experiment she had the power to shape the reality of her students and she did just that.  According to Elliot, blue-eyed people were smarter than brown-eyed people. Brown-eyed people were not allowed to play with blue-eyed people. Brown-eyed people were portrayed as a “menace” to society just as African-Americans are in the United States. Brown-eyed people soon began to associate their eye color with bad qualities. When interviewed the kids said the discrimination was just as bad as whites calling black people “niggers”. On the contrary, blue-eyed people felt superior and happy while brown-eyed people felt hateful toward themselves and discriminators. The speaker discussed how minimal differences can be the basis of discrimination when authorities add value to one group and devalue the other, while later posing the question of, “how do we teach people compassion after they have experienced suffering”? The psychological component to being discriminated against not only affects your social interactions with others but also your performance in many areas. For instance, brown-eyed students, after being discriminated against, began to perform poorly on tests and assignments. Blue-eyed children’s feeling of superiority helped them perform better on tests and assignments. I believe as an educator the best approach would be to create a positive environment for all children to thrive in. In high-school we were given equal opportunity to thrive in the educational environment. If more schools were like my school children would not struggle as much with their self-esteem in school.

Stereotype Threat: When facing a negative stereotype, one’s performance will confirm that the stereotype is true. You can experience a sense of threat that you will be treated in terms of the stereotype. Anxiety is a detrimental factor that keeps people from doing their best. Everyone experiences negative stereotypes depending on the groups they associate themselves with. In the video, the researchers conducted a study on a mixed racial class. When students were told the task was a test of athletic ability, African-Americans performed better. When told the task was a test of sports strategy, the White students out performed the African-American students. Stereotypes are the reason both groups of people felt intimidated while doing certain tasks. African-Americans had already subconsciously associated themselves with having athletic abilities, while the Whites felt superior in the intellectual field. If we could find a way to break free from the stereotypical ideas that are embedded in our brains, then we would be able to see the potential that we all have to be successful at any task.

Pygmalion Effect: During the Ted Talk given by Dr. Alia Crum, one example involved researchers in Italy who studied patients undergoing a painful surgery. This included multiple incisions in the body to later gain access to the heart/lungs. Patients were given strong doses of morphine sulfate. In the study, half of the patients were given the dose of morphine by a doctor directly. The other half were given the dose of morphine by a pre-programmed  pump. Both groups of patients were given the same dose but did not experience the same amount of relief. The group that wasn’t aware of the pre-programmed pump felt less relieved of the pain than the group who had a doctor directly give it to them. Are you getting fitter, healthier, stronger because you believe you are? Well according to the example, the patients felt better because the act of knowing allowed them to somehow link their mind with their body. I think we can apply this situation to our everyday lives in terms of living a happier life. It is not always up to a certain product, person, or circumstance to help you feel better about life. It can just be a psychological thing. If we learn to expect the best out of situations then our minds and bodies will follow.

Removing negative stereotypes from certain groups of people and adding positive stereotypes to all groups collectively will allow an increase in the performance, health, and confidence of individuals.