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Placebo TalksModern perspectives on placebos in society$
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Amir Raz and Cory Harris

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680702.001.0001

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Trust and the placebo effect

Trust and the placebo effect

(p.69) Chapter 5 Trust and the placebo effect
Placebo Talks

Marie Prévost

Anna Zuckerman

Ian Gold

Oxford University Press

Placebo effects operate through the sociocultural beliefs that an injection, or a pill, is a healing agent in itself, independently of its actual constitution. These beliefs are naturally tightly linked to the meaningfulness of our environment; a doctor’s white coat, soothing words, or hospital equipment can all create physiological effects. This chapter explores the meaning that people assign to their doctor–patient relationships—specifically, the psychological difference between trusting a doctor who is perceived to be both competent as well as acting with the patient’s well-being in mind as against trusting a doctor who is perceived to be merely competent. Could this distinction in “trust” make a difference in the context of placebos? The chapter provides evidence supporting this hypothesis and suggests ways to test it. If correct, the hypothesis has implications not only for the theory of placebos but for healing more generally.

Keywords:   doctor–patient relationship, trust, placebos, placebo effects, sociocultural beliefs, healing

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