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Self-fulfilling prophecy

Sociologist Robert K. Merton (1957) defined a self-fulfilling prophecy as a false definition of a situation that is assumed to be accurate. People behave, however, as if that false definition is true. In the end, the misguided behavior produces responses that confirm the false definition. Merton argued that the "tragic, often vicious, cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies can be broken" if the initial definition that set the circle in motion is abandoned. Only when that definition is questioned and a new definition is introduced will the situation correct itself.