There’s a great episode of Invisibilia about how expectations affect reality. It goes back to an experiment done by psychologist Bob Rosenthal where he got some lab rats and put them in separate enclosures marked ‘incredibly smart’ and ‘incredibly dumb’. He then asked people to train the rats to navigate a maze.
The ‘smart’ ones did twice as well as the ‘dumb’ ones — despite the fact that they were actually all the same. It’s an effect that has been seen in lots of different contexts. People behave differently depending whether they think they’re with clever or not so clever people.
I think a lot of it happens in the startup world based on what other people say about the founders or a company. If you think a startup has promise, it’s more likely to have promise. Those investors that treat all founders as if they’re talented and exude confidence in their abilities are more likely to find they have winners on their hands.