Science Project:

How Powerful is the Placebo Effect?

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Materials:

  • Bowl that is big enough to fully submerge a hand
  • Ice water
  • A stop watch
  • An object to be used as your “placebo” Example: Use a bracelet with glass beads. Tell participants that the beads are composed of a mineral that has been shown to help with pain relief.

Procedure

  1. Fill a bowl with ice water.
  2. Start your stopwatch when the test subject puts his or her hand in the bowl of ice water.
  3. Record how long the subject is able to keep his or her hand in the bowl of ice water.
  4. Wait 5-10 minutes.
  5. Ask the participant to wear the item (placebo) that you chose. Tell him or her that this item has been shown to help with pain relief. Be as convincing as possible.
  6. Repeat the ice water test.
  7. Repeat all of the steps for many different subjects. Include men and women in several different age groups.
Author: Megan Doyle, Ph.D.
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