Yet again, Corrie has reminded us of an interesting idea in the social sciences - that of self-fulfilling fear. Kirsty's jealous paranoia that Tyrone would cheat on her drove him into Fiz's welcoming clutches, and so her fear, which was initially ungrounded, proved correct.
How common is this self-fulfilling fear? It can certainly happen at an individual level. If a man freezes with terror when confronted with danger, his fears might well be prove to realized whereas they wouldn't be if he kept a clear head.
It can happen at a social level too. Oliver Burkeman describes some examples, such as airports' counterproductive obsession with security. Stereotype threat predicts that people we view with fear - outsiders, "hoodies" and so on - might come to behave in a more threatening way. And Jon Elster quotes Nisbett and Cohen's description of violence in honour cultures:
The knowledge that the other person may be armed and may begin acting violently may lead to preemptive first strikes. Once conflicts escalate, a man may be more apt to take a first strike as a matter of self-protection before he himself gets shot. At a cultural level, the occurrence of hundreds of these violent self-fulfilling prophecies creates a milieu where the threat of violence keeps individuals vigilant.
In economics, there are two big ways in which self-fulfilling fear occurs.
One is liquidity panics. If traders fear that an asset will become illiquid, they'll not buy it, thus creating the illiquidity they feared. This contributed (pdf) to the financial crisis.
Secondly, corporate investment decisions are driven in (large) part by animal spirits; the notion that bosses are rational is an ideological fiction used to justify a claim to power and wealth. And if enough bosses fear recession, they'll cut spending and so bring about what they feared. This is in part what FDR had in mind when he said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
I suspect, though, that both of these are cases where fear exacerbates downturns rather than acts as a pure exogenous cause; there's usually some reason for traders to fear a loss of liquidity or bosses a downturn.
However, there (at least) two mechanisms acting against self-fulfilling fear, causing it to go into reverse.
One lies in the concept of trust cycles. If everyone is distrustful and fearful of each other, the man who can successfully signal his trustworthiness gains a big competitive advantage; he can borrow cheaper or win new business. As others emulate his success, so trustworthiness spreads and fear declines.
Secondly, when bosses and investors become fearful, they often become overly so. This means that low share prices and weak capital spending lead to rising prices and better economic activity, which helps to reverse their pessimism.
In these ways, self-fulfilling fear leads to cyclical behaviour rather than a permanent slough of despond.
I say all this for two reasons. One is to demonstrate Elster's point that the social sciences are about mechanisms. Some mechanisms cause beliefs to be self-fulfulling, but others act against this tendency. The job of the social sciences is to understand such mechanisms, not to make prophecies.
Secondly, this weakens the link between being rational and being right. Kirsty's belief that Tyrone was cheating on her was initially irrational, but it turned out to be correct. In a similar way, traders who short an asset and make money might not be rational, but merely the first to panic. Wealth is not evidence of rationality.