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Oedipus effect


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In psychology and the social sciences, the effect of a prediction on the predicted event, the prediction either causing or preventing the event that it predicts, or more generally the influence of an item of information on the situation to which the information refers. The term was coined by the Austrian-born British philosopher Karl R(aimund) Popper (1902–94) in his book The Poverty of Historicism (Chapter 1, section 5, p. 13) in 1957, based on a journal article in 1944, and from it he deduced that ‘exact and detailed scientific social predictions are therefore impossible’ (1957, p. 14, italics in original). See self-defeating prophecy, self-fulfilling prophecy. See also experimenter expectancy effect, Pygmalion effect, unexpected hanging paradox. [So called because the Greek legendary figure Oedipus killed his father, whom he had never seen before, as a direct result of the prophecy that had caused his father to abandon him]


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