Category Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Do our expectations affect the results? The surprising research findings.

The question sounds absurd: Can people’s expectations alter what we can do physically? Specifically, can people’s expectations change whether a blind person can see?

On a recent edition of the podcast “This American Life”, Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller, hosts of the new program “Invisibilia”, revealed the results of their research into the subject and those questions. (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/544/batman)

The episode is titled “Batman”, not because it has anything to do with the comic crime fighter, but because the person they investigate mimics a bat’s use of sonar to “see” where he is going.  Batman in this case study is Daniel Kish, blind from childhood. He had his eyeballs removed due to cancer, so his new ones are prosthetic. He has no hope of vision. Or does he?

What Kish does is use clicks with his tongue as a way of understanding what is around him. This is called echolocation. The tongue clicks bounce off of things in his environment, resulting in a sonic representation of what’s around him. I recommend you listen to the podcast. His abilities will blow your mind.

So what does this have to do with expectations? Well, let me back up to their initial interview with research psychologist Bob Rosenthal. He had a lab full of ordinary rats collected for experimentation. He arbitrarily marked some rats as super intelligent, and some as incredibly stupid. Then he watched to see how the treatment each was given affected the results of the tests they were used in. Listen to what Alix Spiegel says:

“So what Bob figured out was that the expectations that the experimenters carried in their heads subtly changed the way that the experimenters touched the rats, and that changed the way that the rats behaved. So when the experimenters thought that the rats were really smart, they felt more warmly towards the rats and so they touched them more gently.”

She then relates studies showing the effect on human subjects:

Research has shown that a teacher’s expectations can raise or lower a student’s IQ score, that a mother’s expectations influences the drinking behavior of her middle schooler, that military trainers’ expectations can literally make a soldier run faster or slower. So my question was, how far does this go?

And this led them to Daniel Kish. His experience has not only enabled him to do what most of us would consider is impossible for the blind (i.e., riding a bike! In traffic!) It has resulted in him teaching young children to be independent. His story of teaching a ten-year old boy to climb a sixty foot tree is worth the whole show.

Do our expectations influence how we act? How we expect others to act?

Have a listen to the podcast and think about it. Then share your feedback with me here at Whatdoyouexpect.ca.

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2015

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press – www.scarletcordpress.com

 

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Are you vocalizing what you expect?

Lauren had come to her final day on the job, and she was fidgeting in her chair. “Should I tell her,” she wondered. She was sitting in her bosses’ office, being given the standard exit interview for summer interns at Reid-Davis. Maureen O’Connell was assistant to the chief purchasing agent, and Lauren’s boss for the summer. As a matter of courtesy, she asked if there was anything else she wanted to share as she finished her time with the company.

“Yes, well, the summer’s been great working here. So thanks. But, well, to tell the truth, I thought we might have worked more closely together.”

There, she’d said it. Now what?

The comment caught Maureen off guard, but she regrouped quickly and replied, “Yes, well I’m sorry for that. However, that was not the plan we laid out for you when we brought you here in May. And frankly, I’m wondering why you never shared that expectation with me? Especially if that was important to you.”

Lauren felt sheepish now. “Yeah, I guess I can’t expect you to read my mind, can I? It’s just that you did say I have great potential. And I saw how you worked with Ella. I really want to be doing what you are doing after I graduate. I guess I just thought you might want to work more with me, that’s all.”

Sound familiar?

Maureen only finds out about Lauren’s expectations after the window of opportunity has past. Why? Very simply, it was not shared when it could have made a difference. This is what we call “vocalizing”, speaking out clearly and understandably what we expect. As a result, the opportunity is missed, an employee leaves disappointed and a supervisor is frustrated. “If only she had shared that with me earlier.”

What expectations are you not vocalizing? What would happen if you shared the expectation you are holding back on sharing?

Next time: Why we don’t vocalize our expectations.

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press – http://www.scarletcordpress.com

 

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They expected what?!

The headline of the Hamilton Spectator this past Tuesday just about leaped off the page at me: Hamilton family left corpse upstairs for six months expecting resurrection. (http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5165939-hamilton-family-left-corpse-upstairs-for-six-months-expecting-resurrection/)

empty coffinReally?! If I wasn’t awake before I read that, I sure was now.

Why would they expect the corpse of their dead relative to be able to come back to life?  The article begins:

Peter Wald’s family truly believed he would rise from the dead. They believed it because they had prayed for it, every single day, while his corpse lay rotting for six months in an upstairs bedroom of their Hamilton home.

Wald’s widow said their expectation was based on their faith. She had placed his body in a bedroom and sealed the door as well as any vents, hoping to keep the odour in. She and the family fervently prayed for six months. When they defaulted on their mortgage an eviction notice brought the sheriff to their door. This led to the discovery of the body and a court case.

Mrs. Wald said their faith was still strong, as witnessed in them packing his clothes when they were evicted, just in case the resurrection was yet to come.

The judge did not take issue with their faith, only with the health and well-being of the family. They were free to expect a resurrection. They were not free to keep a corpse on the premises.

Why did they expect this? Mrs. Wald says she still believes strongly in resurrection, and says there have been many “documented” cases of it around the world. Her faith was not shaken by the legal consequences of her actions. We saw in our last post that we expect things for one of three reasons: our past experience, our desire for it to happen, or the authority of others. This case probably rests on the second and third reason. Her belief that resurrections happened in the Bible, and supposedly some modern occurrences, led to the application to her own situations.

Was Mrs. Wald’s expectation one with a firm basis? Why or why not? Based on what we have been looking at, how would you have counseled her to manage that expectation?

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press.

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Analyzing my expectations means determining how realistic they are.

In my last blog, we looked at the first action in managing expectations, which was realizing what they are. This is done by asking the question: What do I (or what do we) expect? It is a necessary beginning, but it really only sets the stage for what comes next; analyzing if our expectations are realistic.

The question I am asked the most often is: “How do I know if my expectations are realistic?” The fact of the matter is that no one but you can make that analysis. In my book, What do you expect?, I have explained the three areas where most of our expectations come from. These are our past, including our experiences, family traditions, ethnic customs and so on. Second, they come from our desires, the way we want things to work out. And thirdly, they come from listening to what others say, especially those we trust or those who have an influence in our lives.

While one or more of these is usually at the root of what we expect, none of them can guarantee we will get what we expect. Why is that? Simply put, it is because there is no agreement given by anyone to us which gives us that guarantee. Now we realize that even if there is a guarantee, the expectation still may not come to pass. The friend who promises to meet us at noon may be late, the parcel may not be delivered that day, our car may not be repaired at the time promised. Stuff happens. But when we are analyzing how realistic our expectations are, we trust there is a far greater chance of it happening if there is an agreement behind the expectations.

Take a few minutes and analyze something you are expecting. Ask the question, “Why am I expecting this?” Is it because it has always happened that way, or because that’s what I hope will happen? Or because someone said it might happen?  How realistic is your expectation?

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press.

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December 1, 2014 · 9:23 am

Managing our expectations begins with realizing what they are.

man-with-glasses-frame-fitting

I compare realizing our expectations to wearing eyeglasses. Most of the time I’m unaware I’m wearing my glasses. (Unless they are as cloudy and in need of cleaning as they are right now!) They are simply the way I see the world. It’s the same with my expectations. I may not be aware of them, but they are the filter through which I watch my world.

In order to manage our expectations, we need to realize exactly what they are.  How do we do that?

  • We realize our expectations by taking the time to think carefully about what it is we want.
  • We realize our expectations by using anger as our “expectation alarm”, a signal that tells us we are upset about something. We need to stop and recognize what we are angry about and exactly what we are not getting that we want.
  • We realize our expectations by talking the matter out with someone who can help us get to the root of what those expectations are. This might be the person we are expecting something from. It might be a friend who knows us well. It may be a counsellor who is skilled at helping us uncover what it is we really want.
  • We realize our expectations by being honest – with ourselves and with others – about what it is we truly desire.

While we may assume realizing our expectations is a simple and obvious process, this may not be the case. It can be difficult to be that specific and open about what we want. To be so specific may mean we admit something about ourselves we want to keep private. To be so open may be embarrassing to us.

In practice, it is not always easy to fulfill this first action of our process. But if we are to manage our expectations in a healthy and effective way, it is a very necessary step to take.

Question: What am I currently expecting that is affecting a relationship I am in? How specific can I be about that expectation? Am I willing to share that expectation with this other person?

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press.

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