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You don't need to administer a placebo to elicit a placebo effect: Social factors trigger neurobiological pathways to enhance sports performance

Davis, Arran J., Hettinga, Florentina J., Beedie, Chris (2019) You don't need to administer a placebo to elicit a placebo effect: Social factors trigger neurobiological pathways to enhance sports performance. European Journal of Sport Science, . pp. 1-11. ISSN 1746-1391. (doi:10.1080/17461391.2019.1635212) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

The placebo effect is traditionally viewed as a positive outcome resulting from a person’s belief that an inert substance is in fact an active drug. In this context, it is often viewed as an intrapsychic phenomenon. However, most placebo effects reported in scientific research result from social interactions. These might be explicit, such as the description and administration of a treatment by a practitioner, or less explicit, for example, the recipient’s perceptions of the practitioner’s credibility, expertise, or confidence. On this basis, placebo effects are arguably social in origin. Many phenomena in sport are likewise social in origin, from the facilitation effects of a home field crowd or a cohesive team, to anxiety induced by an expert opponent or perceived underperformance. Such social effects have been the subject of research not only in social psychology, but also in experimental physiology. Emergent research in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology suggests that these social effects can be examined as a form of placebo effect. This suggestion is not a speculative position predicated on social and placebo effects sharing similar environmental cues and outcomes, but one based on a growing database indicating that drug, placebo, and social effects operate via common neurobiological mechanisms. In this paper, we examine the theoretical and empirical overlap between placebo and social effects and describe emergent research reporting specific brain pathways activated by socio-environmental cues as well as by drugs and placebos. We do so from three perspectives: the competitor, the teammate, the researcher.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/17461391.2019.1635212
Uncontrolled keywords: psychology, anthropology, environment, social support, placebo, researcher effects
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: C. Beedie
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2019 11:19 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2019 14:08 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/79033 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Beedie, Chris: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0106-3479
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