I saw a post yesterday from Chris “The Fix” Cillizza that made me instantly think of the self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t include this as part of my series on biases in judgment and decision-making, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind. The post from The Fix was titled: “Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago.” At first, I thought that number seemed kind of low, but after reading through the post (and the primary source), it makes sense — there are less Republican journalists because of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let me explain.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is exactly what it sounds like — a prediction that (in)directly causes that prediction to come true. For instance, if you say that you’re going to fail your finals over and over again, and then you fail your finals, that could be said to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, how have I concluded the results of this survey to be a self-fulfilling prophecy? “Mainstream media.”
This phrase — mainstream media — is often said in a pejorative manner by Republicans and conservatives who accuse news outlets of having a liberal bias. According to Wikipedia, the use of this term grew in the 1990s. So, if you had a desire to be a journalist and were coming-of-age when journalists were being grouped in with the “lamestream media,” do you think that this is a a career you’d want to pursue? If you did, there’d certainly be an element of cognitive dissonance to your choice. My guess is that you probably wouldn’t make that choice and that you’d steer clear of journalism as your profession. Or, if you did pursue journalism, you’d probably go into thinking of yourself as an Independent. Not surprisingly, as you can see from the graphic below, the number of journalists who identified as Independents in the 2013 increased more than 50%!
While this hypothesis might be difficult to (dis)prove, it’s certainly interesting to think about the ramifications of how the things we’re talking about today can and will affect the lives of those to come.