Fake pills and treatments are such wonderful things.
They work roughly 30% of the time, on almost anything.
With the technical term of ‘placebos’ they are the gold standard treatment against which every other treatment is measured.
And the whole field is shrouded in mystery.
Why do blue placebos make people more sleepy, while red placebos keep people more awake?
How can fake pills work even when you know there is no active ingredient in them?
How can they work no matter what level of intelligence you do or don’t have?
Well it’s still largely guesswork, because we don’t know why or how they work but they certainly do. Study after study has shown the effectiveness of variations of placebos.
Here is one more thing that has been recently uncovered about placebos – they work better if they cost more!
Dr. Ariely, a behavioral economist at MIT’s Media Lab, and his colleagues had two groups of people receive electrical shocks to their wrists.
They were told this was for a research into a new painkiller called Velodone.
When they were given the medication one group was told the price of the medication was $2.50 a pill and others were told the cost was discounted to just 10 cents a pill.
Those who got the “more expensive” pill had significantly better pain reduction than those who thought they were getting the discounted version.
This is actually important.
Drug companies often bring out drugs that besides being new, are often more expensive too. How much of the patient’s results is simply based on the added expense, rather than having a better chemical.
Also, this effect may indeed make brand-name medications more powerful than generic brands.
So one way to get better results from your treatment is to pay more for it.
As a side note, Dr Dan Ariely has a book just published about these and other psycho-illogical phenomena. It’s called “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”.
My main thought is whether people who buy the more expensive hardcover version will rate the book better than those who buy the cheaper paperback.
It wouldn’t surprise me, or Dan I suspect, in the least.
-Dr Martin Russell