Do you think that the private thoughts in your head could influence how other people — or creatures — act? The answer is “Of course not,” right? Because to say yes would be to admit you believe in mind control or telekinesis or some other phenomenon usually reserved for superhero comic books.





Link to the original NPR video and article: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/09/07/644530036/watch-can-you-affect-another-persons-behavior-with-your-thoughts



  • devious – showing a skilful use of underhand tactics to achieve goals
  • to creepmove slowly and carefully in order to avoid being heard or noticed, occur or develop gradually and almost imperceptibly
  • dumb – stupid
  • maze – a network of paths and hedges designed as a puzzle through which one has to find a way, a labyrinth
  • telekinesis – the supposed ability to move objects at a distance by mental power or other non-physical means
  • to figure (sth) outdiscover, determine, to understand or solve something
  • to handle sth to touch or hold someone or something
  • to put your finger on sth to discover the exact reason why a situation is the way it is, especially when something is wrong
  • to work out (well/badly) – have a good or specified result
  • to draw the line (on sth) – set a limit on what one is willing to do or accept
  • outcome something that follows as a result or consequence

Watch and listen

Answer the questions below.

  • What did the signs on the rat cages say? (00:20)
  • What is the effect of how a rat is handled on its performance? (01:20)
  • According to Carol Dweck, what can expectations influence? (01:40)


Practice Makes Perfect


Fill in the blanks with the correct article [a, an, the or zero article ()]. Go to: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/09/07/644530036/watch-can-you-affect-another-persons-behavior-with-your-thoughts to find out more.


But early in his career, 1___ research psychologist named Bob Rosenthal wasn’t so sure. So to test his hypothesis, he designed 2___ devious experiment.

Late one night he crept into his research lab and hung signs on all 3___ rat cages. Some signs said that 4___ rat inside 5___ cage was incredibly smart, while others said that 6___ rat inside was incredibly dumb (even though neither of these things was true). “They were very average rats that you would buy from 7___ research institute that sells rats for 8___ living,” says Rosenthal.

Next, Bob brought 9___ group of experimenters into his lab and assigned each of them to 10___ rat. He told them that over 11___ next week, their job was to run these rats — some of whom were very smart and some of whom were very stupid — through 12___ maze and to record how well it does. 13___ results were dramatic: 14___ allegedly smart rats did almost twice as well as 15___ “dumb” rats, even though they were all 16___ same kind of 17___ albino lab rat.

At first, no one believed him. “I was having 18___ trouble publishing any of this,” says Rosenthal. But what he eventually figured out was that 19___ expectations that 20___ researchers had in their heads actually translated into 21___ whole set of tiny behavior changes.

Their expectations subtly changed 22___ way that 23___ experimenters touched 24___ rats and then, in turn, 25___ way that 26___ rats behaved. So, when 27___ experimenters thought that 28___ rats were really smart, they felt more warmly towards them and touched them more carefully.

“We do know that handling 29___ rats and handling them more gently can actually increase 30___ performance of rats,” Rosenthal explains.

Subsequent 31___ research found that 32___ similar dynamic can happen in 33___ people, too. If you have lower expectations of 34___ someone, your body language will reflect it: You may stand farther from them, or make less eye contact, for instance, says Carol Dweck, 35___ psychologist at Stanford.


She was one of 36___ several researchers who have explored all kinds of surprising effects that 37___ expectations can have: A mother’s expectations can affect 38___ drinking behavior of her middle-schooler. Military trainers’ expectations can literally make a soldier faster or slower. Teacher expectations can raise or lower 39___ student’s IQ score. Rosenthal pioneered some of these ideas in 40___ study on school children. 41___ study made a splash, yet has proven difficult to replicate and has been hotly debated. Analyses suggest that the expectation effect on students is small.

42___ scientists are still studying this phenomenon in 43___ people, Dweck says, learning more about “things that are possible and mechanisms through which a belief affects an outcome or one person affects another person.”



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