From what source does "The Matthew Effect" get its name?

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The Matthew Effect is essentially the idea that the rich tend to get richer, while the poor tend to get poorer. It comes from the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, which reads, "For to every one 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" (25:29). In the context of the Bible, this verse means that those who work for God's grace have increased opportunities to find even greater grace. Those who do not have grace will not have opportunities for more grace.

Gladwell uses the Matthew Effect in Outliers to explain why children, for example, who show some early talent in some area, such as academics or sports, receive more and more help and encouragement from their teachers and coaches, while those who do not initially show this promise do not always receive encouragement. Therefore, those who are promising at a skill tend to get better and better, while those who are not initially promising do not have as many chances to improve. There is a great advantage to showing early promise or having an early advantage.

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Gladwell begins Chapter One, “The Matthew Effect,” with a verse from the New Testament text of the Gospel of Matthew:

For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. ~ Matthew 25:29

In other words: Those who succeed will find even more success. Those who don’t succeed will continue not to (to an even greater extent). It’s also known as the “self-fulfilling prophecy.” This “Matthew Effect” was first coined by sociologist Robert Merton. And to illustrate the point, Gladwell uses the example of the Canadian hockey system for training young athletes. Because of the standard January 1st cut-off date for registrations, anyone with a birthday soon after this day essentially gets an extra year to practice. For this reason, most successful professional hockey players happen to be born in the months of January, February, and March. Certainly, these athletes also have talent. But they also had the advantage of extra practice and development time, merely because of the chance-like circumstances of their birth.

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