How to use the 'Sembatyas Effect' as your growth mindset

The "Sembatyas Effect" also known officially as the Mathew effect refers to accumulated advantage as a tendency of people to acquire success in relation to their initial level of social status and resources. Here's how you can use it to determine your personal growth.

The Sembatyas who collected big in wedding pledges

The video that has been making rounds on social media of wedding money pledges inspired this read.


The Mathew Effect is based on the parables of Jesus from the synoptic Gospels, notably the Gospel of Mathew. Jesus says "For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away." Matthew 25:29, RSV. This translated into the adage "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

When it comes to personal growth, this parable can be a metaphor for feelings of abundance and feelings of lack. When we showcase abundance and feel abundant, it is easier to welcome more and accumulate success.

But when we live in fear and apprehension, we are more concerned with protecting what we have rather than growing so that when we lose it, we have nothing left.


However, it is more than an interpretation and has been subject to real-world application since it was coined by two sociologists Robert K. Merton and Harriet Zuckerman in 1968.

It is largely explained by preferential attachment where it becomes increasingly difficult for low-ranking individuals to increase their influence because wealth and credit are distributed based on how much a person already has.

Originally, it was a study focused on inequality among scientists in the way they were recognised for their work. It is Norman W. Storer, of Columbia University who discovered that this inequality existed outside social sciences in other places.

When he coined the term, Robert K. Merton was describing how prominent scientists get more credit than unknown researchers despite similarities in their work. For instance, a prize will undoubtedly go to a senior researcher on a project even if a student did all the work.


This later influenced Stephen to formulate Stigler Stigler's law of eponymy which states "No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer." Moreover, Stigler mentioned Merton as the true discoverer thus making Stigler's law an example of itself.

Merton argued that beyond reputation, the Mathew Effect influences social selection processes resulting in the concentration of talent and resources.

He noted that the concentration of attention prominent individuals get can increase their self-assurance thus boosting them to perform beyond those of equally valid and even superior works.

How to use the Mathew Effect as a growth mindset


Viewed from this vantage, it is easy to see that whatever we do is always toward building a foundation for the things we want while enjoying what we get.

In this way, failure and success almost don't matter and cannot affect you because it is not about the finished product but your day-to-day living.

You already have what you want in some variation (knowledge, resources, network, health, etc) because those are the seeds of what you CAN accumulate.


Moreover, if you are going to get something it has to make sense to the trajectory of your life and who you are becoming.

For instance, it is hard to become a pilot, even by chance, when you are working towards being a real estate agent.

The saying 'fake it until you make it' has nothing to do with deceit or pretending.

If you want something and have the goods to back it up if the opportunity presents itself, then there's nothing wrong with positioning yourself to get it.


It also helps you to mentally overcome the external ranks that may intimidate you.

Appreciate the life you have because it is literally all you have from one moment to the next.

The quality is adjustable but your life is the root of whatever you need, desire and want so enjoy it as it is at every turn.

As you enjoy it, you are best suited to recognise the opportunities in it and other people are able to perceive you the same way.


Boost your emotional and mental capacity to enjoy it.

Just because you are trying to be better doesn't mean there's something wrong with you or the world.

If it were possible if you could be born into different circumstances to make a choice, do you think you would be able to choose the best for yourself? Probably not. And even then you would still try to be some version of "better".

So wanting to be better is your birthright but at the same time, you are working from a space of being good enough to want to be better.


It is also important to know that whether you receive something or not, you should value whatever you achieve no matter what anyone else says or doesn't say.


Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: