I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Dec 2020 - 18 Dec 2020


Human Studies


PLoS One



One of us or one of them? The effects of the model’s and observer’s characteristics on placebo analgesia induced by observational learning.


Bajcar EA, Wiercioch-Kuzianik K, Farley D, Adamczyk WM, Buglewicz E, Bąbel P
PLoS One. 2020; 15(12):e0243996.
PMID: 33326481.


Previous studies have proved that observational learning can induce placebo analgesia, but the factors that influence observationally induced placebo analgesia have not yet been extensively examined. The primary goal of this study was to investigate the effect of information about the role that the observed person (model) plays in the experiment on the magnitude of the observationally induced placebo effect. This study also examined the contribution of the observer's empathy, conformity and fear of pain to the placebo analgesia induced by observational learning. The effects induced in two experimental groups and one control group were compared. Participants in the experimental groups observed a model introduced as either another participant taking part in the study or a coworker of the experimenter. The model rated the intensity of pain induced by electrocutaneous stimuli preceded by color stimuli. One-half of all participants watched a model rating pain stimuli preceded by the color orange as higher than stimuli preceded by the color blue; for the other half, the ratings were the opposite. There was no observation in the control group. Subsequently, all participants received pain stimuli of the same intensity preceded by orange and blue stimuli and rated the intensity of the experienced pain. Placebo analgesia was found in both experimental groups. However, the way the observed model was introduced to participants did not affect the magnitude of placebo analgesia. Thus, the study showed that the role played by the model is not crucial for observationally induced placebo analgesia. The examined observer's individual characteristics did not predict the magnitude of placebo effect.