Some patients undermine how effective a drug is if they are told it is rather inexpensive, i.e., costly placebos are more effective than cheap ones. That is the conclusion of Dr. Dan Ariely‘s landmark research that received the Ig Nobel prize for medicine. During the experiment, his team told volunteers that they were being given a new kind of painkiller, with some receiving an expensive one and others a cheaper one. In reality, all of them were given same sugar pills. When exposed to small electric shocks, Those who thought their pills were more expensive reported less pain than the others.
Although the conclusion is not new, and the research may sound humorous at the first glance, but I think this work is of great importance. A humorous work sometimes hides behind it a legitimate scientific point. You can read more about Dr. Ariely and his works in a brief biography here.
The Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October–around the time the recipients of the genuine Nobel Prizes are announced–for ten achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Organized by the open access, free for everyone scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)—The journal of record for inflated research and personalities, they are presented by a group that includes genuine Nobel Laureates at a ceremony at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. This year’s Ig Nobel winners are listed here.