The Jedi Mind Trick of Organizational Behavior

I’ve returned to my old Organizational Behavior (Stephen P. Robbins) text book a couple of times now, without success, to try to find the name of the particular study that determined that there’s a  Jedi Mind Trick, with great potential, within every organization that actually works as if by magic.  It’s not ‘Reinforcement Theory’ because it works more like ‘Creation’.

The theory posits that, in three particular areas, an employee can be made to believe in the existence of positive attributes about themselves, and thereafter perform accordingly, even if these attributes weren’t previously objectively true.  Two of these are: 1. Quality of work.  2. Autonomy.

(I can’t remember the 3rd.  If you know it, or the name of the theory/study please get in touch.)

This means that, if a supervisor tells an under-performing employee “I’m glad that I can leave you to work alone and expect a job well done” it will become true thereafter.   This is exactly like the Jedi Mind Trick.

This was, to me, the most interesting part of the course and I’ve  had difficulty understanding why other people don’t appear to share my fascination.  Perhaps it’s because they feel that the mendacity and unwarranted praise aren’t virtuous?  They are.  Supremely so.  This utterly simple enchantment is a powerful positive device for considerable good for all concerned; the employee, the proponent, and the organization.

The active efficacy is likely due to the perceived top-down authority of the supervisor and also holds interesting possibilities for parents, teachers, and even respected peers.

The arena of ‘Quality of work’ has an enormity, many thousands, of possibilities via the many positive nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs that can constitute ‘quality’. How many of these words can authority figures make true instantly just by uttering, or writing, them? Each of these words merits further study for their efficacy.

“These ARE the words you’re looking for”

Business Adjectives          Business Nouns

Adverbs            Abstract Nouns            Dynamic Resume’ Verbs

Effective Advertising Words



  1. This sounds something like Job Characteristic Theory by Greg R. Oldham and J. Richard Hackman, in which the three factors are: Job Quality (skill variety, task identity and task significance, Autonomy and Feedback.

    If it’s not that exact study you’re referring to, there are a number of related theories around “treating people how you would like them to behave”

  2. Thanks, Mtanne. Very thoughtful. (It looks like the second parenthesis should be right after ‘significance’.) “Treating people how you would like them to behave” sounds like one of the Universal Laws: “Like begets like” which is similar to the most well-known “Like attracts like”. Evidently it’s a Jedi Mind Trick with the power of Universal Law behind it.

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