Is a placebo just as effective as a Heineken?

The present study is the first to compare the effects of alcohol versus placebo drinks in reducing feelings of sadness. Fifty participants were randomly assigned to two groups: (a) participants told that they would receive alcohol and actually received alcohol (AC group); and (b) participants told that they would receive alcohol but were provided with placebo drinks (PG group). Mood ratings were obtained upon arrival, after negative mood induction and again after consumption of alcohol or placebo drinks. Both groups reported corresponding increments in negative mood following negative mood induction, and decreases in negative mood following alcohol or placebo drink consumption. Both groups reported similar levels of subjective intoxication. It is concluded that the expectancy factor plays a key role in reducing negative mood regardless of actual beverage consumption.

Source: “Alcohol versus placebo drinks in reducing feelings of sadness: Pilot study” from Australian Psychologist, Volume 44, Issue 4 December 2009 , pages 248 – 252


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