Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Expensive Placebos Work Better

Ah ha, just as I suspected; cheap placebos don’t work as well as expensive ones. Here’s what a recent study revealed…

A 10-cent pill doesn't kill pain as well as a $2.50 pill, even when they are identical placebos, according to a provocative study by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University.


Ariely and a team of collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a standard protocol for administering light electric shock to participants’ wrists to measure their subjective rating of pain. The 82 study subjects were tested before getting the placebo and after. Half the participants were given a brochure describing the pill as a newly-approved pain-killer which cost $2.50 per dose and half were given a brochure describing it as marked down to 10 cents, without saying why.

In the full-price group, 85 percent of subjects experienced a reduction in pain after taking the placebo. In the low-price group, 61 percent said the pain was less.

Very interesting, but not too surprising.

For the record, when Neumed goes to his doctor for a placebo, he wants the real thing. Not a cheap substitute. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.


Source: Costly placebo works better than cheap one


Anonymous said...

I just found you through Grand Rounds. Very funny post. Perfect for April Fool's day. In fact, your entire blog is hilarious. I will be back.

Neumed said...

Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoy my weird sense of humor. However, I suppose I should point out that some of my posts are meant to be serious (even if my writing is a joke). :)