self-destroying prophecy The logical converse of a self-fulfilling prophecy: that is, a situation in which a prediction (including a sociological generalization) is undermined precisely because of widespread familiarity with the prediction or generalization itself. For example, predictions of crowd trouble at a sporting event may forestall the anticipated violence, if probable trouble-makers foresee a huge police presence and therefore stay away from the venue. Note, however, that such predictions can equally well become self-fulfilling prophecies—as those likely to become involved in spectator violence are attracted by the publicity given to the event. No little sociological (and policy) effort has been spared in the attempt to determine which is the more likely outcome in particular instances.
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