Your beliefs influence other people’s behavior.
Your beliefs can shape your reality not only by influencing your own behavior, but also by influencing other people’s behavior, from close relationship partners to complete strangers. In one classic study, male participants were led to believe that a woman with whom they spoke on the phone was either attractive or unattractive. Analysis of the recordings by outside observers showed that throughout the conversation, women perceived as more attractive came to behave in a more friendly and likeable way (link is external) than those who were perceived as less attractive, suggesting that participants’ expectations not only shaped their own perceptions of their conversation partner—they also seemed to elicit behavior that confirmed their expectations. This phenomenon has been demonstrated in a number of other contexts as well, including interactions between teachers and students. (link is external)
Your beliefs may also elicit corresponding behavior from romantic partners. Research suggests that people who see their partners in a more idealized light (link is external)than their partners see themselves tend to become more satisfied with their relationships over time, experience less conflict, and are more likely to stay together. Why might this be? One explanation is that idealizers instill confidence in their partners and alleviate their partners' insecurities about the relationship. More secure partners are, in turn, more likely to behave in generous (link is external)and constructive (link is external)ways, fostering greater relationship satisfaction. By contrast, those who over-perceive hostile intentions in their partners during conflicts are more likely to behave in ways that elicit the very hostility and rejection they fear.