Recently I’ve been trying to get a better understanding for the cause and mechanism of the placebo effect. A friend suggested that the placebo effect is a form of cognitive bias, but I’ve had trouble finding evidence for this.

  • 1
    What kind of evidence are you looking for? It sounds more like a categorization argument. – Fizz Aug 9 at 2:11
  • What do you mean by cognitive bias? What are the main differences between these alternative accounts of the placebo effect? – steveLangsford 2 hours ago

The question is not terribly clear since it can be just an issue of categorizing the placebo effect in a philosophical sense as a "cognitive bias" for some broad meaning of the latter. But...

Some have argued that neuroimaging technologies such as functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) can help determine whether placebo effects are independent of response bias (27). For example, one team of researchers has reported that placebo responses occur in pain-related areas of the brain during the time of stimulation and not only during assessment (28), while other researchers have shown that spinal cord mechanisms are involved with placebo analgesia (29). These experiments seem to indicate that at least some of the observed effect of placebo in an experimental setting is independent of response bias; however, they cannot rule out the hypothesis that some of the observed clinical effect is due to response bias.

Note that response bias, whith which the placebo effect is contrasted above, is a specific [cognitive] bias.

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.