Galatea effect

Galatea Effect – Self-belief Leads to Success

~Bhawana Mishra

What is the Galatea Effect?

The effect in which the driving force to work is self-belief is the Galatea effect. The ability to believe in self-worth, and working up to that level this effect is namely so based on a character of the poem ‘Pygmalion’ by the Roman poet Ovid.

It is an effect that sets one free from dependence on an outer source for inspiration. This is one’s fuel that keeps the fire to work for progress alive.

Our beliefs play a huge part in our success. Our beliefs shape our choices. Our efforts and choices are driven towards what we believe in. And the efforts lead to our progress. 


In Greek mythology, there existed a sculptor named Pygmalion. He believed no women are worthy of love for they are only filled with deceit and dirt, only working towards fulfilling their selfish desires.

Thus he decided never to fall for any woman in his life. He presumed them to be the epitome of malfeasance (wrongdoing). As a result, he engrossed himself with his work, ivory carving.  

A man knows little that destiny would unfold with the most contrasting outcome. 

The best of his creations took the form of that which he escaped the most all his life. It was the statue of a woman, so beautiful, that though lifeless he treated it as one with flesh and blood.

He kissed her, gifted her flowers, brought chirping birds to her, and laid her on a soft bed. He named her Galatea. He prayed to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of Love, to give her life. 

Aphrodite (left), Pan and Eros

Aphrodite appeared to see the magnificence of the ivory statue when she was held baffled. The statue was just a lifeless manifestation of herself.

She was so delighted by the creation that she granted the wish of Pygmalion. She put life and soul into the ivory body.

That day, when Pygmalion came and kissed the statue, the statue kissed him back. She was now alive with the grace of Aphrodite. She was a real woman now.

Later, Pygmalion married her and they were bestowed with a child. The story is a metaphor to trigger in oneself, the required self-belief.

In the field of psychology, a socio-psychological phenomenon is recorded, which compares how the psychology of society affects an individuals’ psychology and performance. 

This is classified into three categories- 

  1. Golem Effect – When the negative social belief affects negatively.
  2. Pygmalion Effect – When the positive social belief affects positively.
  3. Galatea Effect – As follows

Galatea Effect

It is simply self-efficacy. When one holds oneself to be worthy of something higher, they keep putting effort to achieve it. This is the Galatea effect.

This is a very positive psychological phenomenon in which man doesn’t need any outer source of motivation. The true source of motivation is self. It comes from within.

I feel these motivational videos, therapy, and seminars, and all such other things are merely a temporary source of boosting the morale up. They can last for as long as 2-3 days. 

To achieve something, it requires dedicated work towards it all day and night. And that motivation which comes from outside by any sort of lecture or seminar cannot ignite that level of consistent long term motivation.

Old man galatea effect

Galatea Effect as Leaders

What makes a leader different from hearing? Why it is that leaders are fewer? Why are extra-ordinary successes so few? 

Because only a few dare to believe fearlessly.

You must have heard some people have dreams which may seem quixotic (unrealistic) to you. Some people have dreams that they dare to even speak about and not get haunted by the giggling and slanders.

And they work for it, day and night. The fire inside them keeps driving them closer and closer to their goals and one day they achieve even the most quixotic looking goals. 

This is the Galatea effect.

It is rare to not get deterred by so much around you. But that’s what makes you unique. And that’s what makes you a leader!

As a leader, you can motivate those around you with your belief. Your belief in people can cause them to believe more in their abilities and work harder.

The Pygmalion and Galatea Effect

Pygmalion and Galatea, though are inseparable characters to each other, the two effects, in a literal sense are certainly different. 

The Pygmalion effect is that in which the belief of others affects one’s progress. On the contrary, the Galatea effect is the one in which one’s own belief is the key to his/her progress.

However, they are both interconnected. One effect creates the possibility for another effect to play. 

This is illustrated through an example –

Suppose you’re a teacher in a class of two – A and B. The traits of A remind you about one of your brightest students so you believe A will do well in life. 

While that of B matches to a boy who was very notorious in class. So your behaviour is automatically kind towards A and harsh towards B. 

A gets proper attention and appreciations for his works. On the contrary, B faces the brunt of harshness as scolding with minimum appreciations. 

Gradually, B grows an aversion towards studies and classes. He starts to become irregular with works given in the class and later starts to show up less. While A is as regular as he was. This reaffirms your belief system.

In the above example, we saw how your belief affects the belief of others about themselves. It is the power of expectation.

Robert Rosenthal, a professor at the University of Harvard’s conducted experiments on the same theme. He concluded that the belief of others in you is more likely to make your work in the same direction. 

Self belief

Galatea in Management studies

Now, this is a very important thing that is taught to the management students to apply in business as bosses or associates and juniors. This asks for belief in the people around you.

Belief is the key to organizational working. It forms the hierarchical form of governance. Mutual trust is an understanding, that no one will take undue advantage of another one’s vulnerabilities. 

This is because when you trust someone, your expectations boost their ability to work in the same direction as you would expect them to.

As a superior, it is that juniors are necessary to be trusted with responsibilities, for an organization to work. And as junior, it is important to believe in the instructions coming from the above for a hierarchical structure of governance to be preserved.


There has to be a self- belief in all. The pre-requisites to the Galatea effect are confidence and indifference towards the ridicule that others may hurl at you. 

Galatea and Pygmalion are interconnected to each other. The belief of others affects you. The belief that you have upon yourself affects you too. It is just the resultant belief that classifies into either of the one – Pygmalion or Galatea. 

Lastly, it is the choice of an individual on what he wants to believe more in. It’s the choice between people’s beliefs about you and your own beliefs about yourself. Choose wisely.

Bhawana Mishra
Trying to learn as much as I can!