What Is Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? Does It Affect Our Mental Health?

Last Update on November 11, 2022 : Published on November 12, 2022

Has it ever happened to you that you predicted something about yourself and it came true? I often come across people who say “I had a feeling that this is going to happen” and it’s surprising to see someone know what’s going to happen next.

Even though it might surprise a few, people have been predicting their future for ages. When I say the future, I’m not talking about the big picture. By future, I mean the immediate future, for example, you can predict if your speech will go well or not, or that the project you’re working on is going to be a hit.

These predictions are made based on the knowledge you have about yourself. Perhaps that’s why they tend to come true more often. However, when our beliefs and expectations subconsciously influence our behavior that’s the time we enact self-fulfilling prophecies.

Let’s understand the self-fulfilling prophecy better…

What Is Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?


The self-fulfilling prophecy is the manifestation of our thoughts, beliefs, and expectations that each individual possesses about their future. In simple words, when you believe that your behavioral response is going to be a certain way, you unknowingly signal your brain to behave according to your expectations.

Let’s understand the meaning with a simple example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remember that one morning when you felt like it was not going to be a good day? You believe in that thought and whatever you do all day, you allow yourself to only look at the negative aspect of it. By doing so you are indirectly affirming that your day is going terribly.

Self-fulfilling prophecies are those thoughts that you have about your future and upon putting your trust and belief in that thought, you make it happen. Your beliefs act as affirmations that signal your brain to manifest an expected behavior. For example, if you believe that your day will go well, you’re more likely to experience a pleasant day.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Psychology

Most psychologists believe that our expectations for the future influence our behavior (outcome). They have found enough evidence to be convinced that we can manifest our behavior even when we do not know about our expectations.

Psychologists often call self-fulfilling prophecies similar to the phenomenon of the placebo effect. This is so because when the placebo effect was being tested, it was the self-fulfilling prophecy that was making them feel better even after taking a sugar pill.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is when you can predict your behavior shortly. Since you have such a strong belief that you’re certainly going to behave that way, you indirectly hint your brain and make the prophecy come true.

4 Stages Of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy


According to the self-fulfilling prophecy theory, the cycle takes about 4 stages to complete. From the conception of thought to the self-fulfilling prophecy coming true, there are a few stages that you go through.

Let’s have a look at the 4 stages of self-fulfilling prophecy to understand the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy better;

  1. Believe: we begin by harboring a belief about ourselves or our behavior
  2. Influence: in the second stage our beliefs begin to influence our actions
  3. Impact: our actions have an impact on their belief about us
  4. Reassurance: their belief about us has formed by our actions, strengthening our initial belief

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy And Mental Health

Self-fulfilling prophecies act as proof that our thoughts about ourselves are correct even when they are taking us in the wrong direction. For example, if you have an anxiety disorder, your self-fulfilling prophecy states that you can’t speak in public. As a result of the prophecy, it is most likely to come true.

When the self-fulfilling prophecy comes true, your belief that public speaking is not your cup of tea becomes even stronger. If in the same scenario, the self-fulfilling prophecy of an anxious man would have been “I’m well prepared and the speech will go well” then it would have a positive consequence.

However, we are humans and we tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive. Similarly, people with depression often face the negative consequences of self-fulfilling prophecies. They believe that they are worthless, lonely, unlovable, etc. and unfortunately, the prophecies manifest that dread.

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about self-fulfilling prophecy informative and interesting. Do share this blog with your friends and family so that you know that you can unknowingly manifest negative thoughts and beliefs.

Make sure you have faith in yourself and do not fall into the trap of negative self-fulfilling prophecies.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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