The Placebo Effect…

The Placebo effect

In the Psychologist this month Christian Jarrett tells us 10 things about the placebo effect, which I will summarise here:

  1. It works even when you know it’s a placebo!
  2. Colours and branding help e.g. blue placebo pills make better sedatives than pink ones…
  3. Some people are more prone to it e.g.optimists (especially with analgesics).
  4. Some doctors are better at inducing it than others e.g. ones who are warm and friendly.
  5. It’s not just about pills and pain relief e.g. certain smells can make people feel and be more creative if they are told it does that…
  6. If you are told you have slept well you will be more alert the next day even if you have not slept so well….
  7. If you are told that you exercise more than your peers, you have better health outcomes even if you haven’t…
  8. The opposite of course is the nocebo effect – so be careful about reading the side effects on your medications!
  9. Expressive writing improves mental health even when the trauma is a made-up one….
  10. The effect appears to be getting better i.e. more of an effect can be contributed to placebos in trials and this has changed between the 90s and 2013…


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