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The Perils of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

There are moments of realization where we look ourselves in the eye and tell ourselves, “I knew this was going to happen. ” This can be rationalized through a number of differing explanations depending upon our particular perspective. My interest in this entry is to discuss how people with a negative perspective react to this experience. There are people who maintain a pessimistic and negative outlook on life, whether due to their upbringing, circumstance, or simply through their intuition. This perpetual negative perspective influences which decisions to make, how these decisions are made and how they are then interpreted in hindsight.

Take for example somebody with a negative perspective who is a professional poker player. They are scheduled to play in a poker tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Going in to the tournament the person is talking to a friend on the phone and says, “This is going to be a headache. I have never played well at the Bellagio and I always get the most terrible cards. I can never catch a break at that place. ” The tournament ends with our protagonist getting a bad beat by somebody who caught a string of cards to make the winning hand.

The protagonist sighs in exasperation, “I just knew that was going to happen. I knew I should have folded even with the best hand, but I had to prove that I always have the worst luck here. ” Our protagonist has a very different outlook on the outcome than the person who ended up winning the hand. The pessimism and negativity of the protagonist led to the belief that he was going to have terrible luck and lose, even before the tournament began. On the other hand, the winning player will have left the tournament believing that they have the best of luck at the Bellagio.

So how should this example be explained? The fact that the protagonist’s belief came to fruition demonstrates how a continual outlook can affect the way a person acts and how they perceive that action. They would not have had the beliefs confirmed in this case if the protagonist had folded the hand when the intuition struck that the hand would be lost. This is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy that is ultimately self-destructive while at the same time self-confirming. This can be a terrible combination, especially with addictive personalities like the example of our professional gambler.

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