The effect of the type and colour of placebo stimuli on placebo effects induced by observational learning
SourcePLoS One, 11, 6, (2016), article e0158363
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC SMN
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
Research shows that placebo analgesia and nocebo hyperalgesia can be induced through observational learning. Our aim was to replicate and extend these results by studying the influence of the type and colour of stimuli used as placebos on the placebo effects induced by observational learning. Three experimental and two control groups were tested. All participants received pain stimuli of the same intensity preceded by colour lights (green and red) or geometric shapes (circles and squares). Before receiving pain stimuli, participants in the experimental groups, but not in the control groups, observed a model who rated pain stimuli that were preceded by either green lights (green placebo group), red lights (red placebo group), or circles (circle placebo group) as being less painful than those preceded by either red lights (green placebo group), green lights (red placebo group), or squares (circle placebo group). As a result participants in the experimental groups rated pain stimuli preceded by either green lights (green placebo group), red lights (red placebo group), or circles (circle placebo group) as being less painful than the participants in the control groups did, indicating that placebo effect was induced. No statistically significant differences were found in the magnitudes of the placebo effects between the three experimental groups (green placebo, red placebo, and circle placebo groups), indicating that neither the type nor the colour of placebo stimuli affected the placebo effects induced by observational learning. The placebo effects induced by observational learning were found to be unrelated to the individual differences in pain anxiety, fear of pain, and empathy.
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