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Description: Employees are increasingly exhorted to “pursue their passion” at work. Inherent in this call is the belief that passion will produce higher performance because it promotes intrapersonal processes that propel employees forward. Here, we suggest that the pervasiveness of this “passion narrative,” coupled with the relative observability of passion, may lead others to treat passionate employees in more favorable ways that subsequently produce better workplace outcomes, a self-fulfilling prophecy we term the Passionate Pygmalion Effect. We find evidence for this effect across two experiments (Study 1 and pre-registered Study 3) and one field survey with pairs of subordinates and supervisors from a diverse set of organizations (Study 2). In line with the Passionate Pygmalion Effect, our studies show that more passionate employees (1) received more positive feedback for their success, (2) were offered more training and promotion opportunities, (3) elicited more favorable emotional reactions, and (4) prompted more favorable attributions for varied performance outcomes. Such favorable treatment persisted despite describing passionate employees’ job performance identically or controlling for job performance statistically. Notably, more passionate employees even elicited more favorable emotional reactions and attributions when their job performance decreased. We subsequently discuss how our interpersonal perspective on the passion narrative implicates challenges for the advancement of employees with fewer opportunities to pursue their passion (e.g., given socioeconomic constraints or exploitative work demands), or who are less likely to be perceived as passionate by others (e.g., given cross-cultural differences).


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