MIT Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely discusses his work in studying the medical effectiveness of placebos and outlines his findings, which bear implications on human behavior as a whole. Drawing on specific examples from his own experiment, Dan Ariely explains how the placebo effect extends beyond the mere medical affects as the information they revealed to study participants further effected the experience of the situation, meaning that our expectations play a large role in all of our experiences.
In the spirit of Pavlovian conditioning, the brain secretes a natural painkiller similar to morphine once the person accepts that they have taken a pain relief medication and that the pain will subside. Similarly, when Dan Ariely gave study participants beer with balsamic vinegar in it without telling them, they favored it over regular beer, while they hated it when they knew there was balsamic vinegar in it before they drank it.
The Placebo Effect
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