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June 25, 2015
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Placebo Effect Largely Ignored in Psychological Intervention Studies

Many brain-training companies tout the scientific backing of their products – the laboratory studies that reveal how their programs improve your brainpower. But according to a new report, most intervention studies like these have a critical flaw: They do not adequately account for the placebo effect. The new analysis appears in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. The results of psychological interventions, like medical ones, must be compared to improvements in a control condition, said University of Illinois psychology professor Daniel Simons, who co-wrote the article with Walter Boot, Cary Stothart and Cassie Stutts, of Florida State University. In a clinical trial for a new drug, some participants receive a pill with the critical ingredients, and others receive an identical-looking pill that is inert – a placebo. Because participants cannot tell which they received, people in each condition should be equally likely to expect improvements. In contrast, for most psychology interventions, participants know what's in their "pill," Simons said. more

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