Placebo Expectancies as a Mechanism in the Psychological and Physiological Benefits of Physical Exercise

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Simon Wullimann (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Joshua Broman-Fulks

Abstract: The present research is designed to examine the potential role of the placebo effect in the benefits of physical exercise. To this end, 64 healthy non-exercising young adults were randomly assigned to a positive expectancy, negative expectancy, or no-information control group. Participants in the positive expectancy group received feedback that their daily level of activity indicated that they were living an active lifestyle and should be receiving the corresponding physical and psychological benefits. Participants in the negative expectancy group were informed that they were not meeting minimum standards of daily activity, and thus were not receiving the benefits of an active lifestyle. The no information control group did not receive feedback regarding their level of activity. It was hypothesized that participants receiving the positive expectancy manipulation would show improved scores on psychological and physiological measures, whereas the negative expectancy and control groups would show little or no change in outcomes. Results revealed that participants in the positive expectancy group reported significant increases in perceived level of daily activity and benefits of current level of physical activity on psychological wellbeing. However, these changes in participant perceptions did not correspond with significant effects on any of the psychological or physiological outcome measures.

Additional Information

Wullimann, S. (2010). Placebo Expectancies as a Mechanism in the Psychological and Physiological Benefits of Physical Exercise. Unpublished master's thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2010
Placebo effect, Physical exercise, Psychological benefits of exercise, Physiological benefits of exercise, Expectancy model

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