Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” How harmful are stereotypes, anyway? As time moves forward and conversations question the relevancy of race, many are of the opinion that if people don’t like you, so what? Hurt feelings have no bearing on how you are or who you become.. or do they? This classic experiment reveals the power beliefs have on our psyche.

In 1968, school teacher Jane Elliot showed the connection between degradation (and praise) and achievement and behavior. In her landmark study, students were marginalized based on their eye color, producing shocking results in the course of just one day.

Key Points

  • The self-fulfilling prophecy: How what we think of ourselves of ourselves shapes reality.
  • The power of words and thoughts, particularly in the case of children.
  • How it is possible to influence large groups of people through the manipulation of news and media.
  • The influence of societal institutions: Schools, Media, Family, etc.
  • Note how discrimination wasn’t just hateful talk or dislike: it was institutionalized- reinforced through manipulation of resources and freedoms.
  • This gives witness-able  solidity to the effects of discrimination, which is often trivialized and dismissed as unprovable or insignificant.


The Heart is more far more significant and powerful than we’ve ever been told.  More than a blood pumper, it holds the key to extraordinary intelligence beyond that of the brain. Learn more in this Spirit Science clip.

Note: Ms. Elliot still orchestrates this experiment to this day with the same powerful results.

There is also an interesting experiment in which an African American man is given two similar tests and told one is for intelligence and the other for sports aptitude. He does well in the area he thinks he is good in: athleticism.



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