The placebo effect and the alcohol

BodnÁR Vivien, Nagy Krisztina, Cziboly Ádám, G. Bárdos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Theoretical background: The placebo effect can be detected in many instances during our life, when an expectation associated with any psychoactive material leads to subjective and physiological changes. Aims: The present work has studied the role of ethanol and of the expectancies associated with the alcohol in the changes of the behaviour, especially of the memory, of the balance and of the subjective state in participants consuming alcoholic, alcohol-suggested, or non-alcoholic cocktails. Methods: Using a balanced-placebo design in individual or social situations, respectively, we examined changes of the short term memory, of the balance and of subjective body-mental feelings by testing recalling of wordlists, by keeping the "drunken stance" and by applying a visual analogue scale of 17 pairs of statements. Results: When recording body-mind conditions, the examined groups have shown different patterns along the Social (eigenvalue: 5.25, R2 = 30.9%) as well as Body Symptoms (eigenvalue: 2.77, R2 = 47.2%) factors. Participants reported subjective symptoms corresponding to their expectations initiated by the manipulations, which were further enhanced by the group effect. We have managed to show the expectations induced classical placebo-effect in both the individual and the social situations in the deceived participants who actually had not consumed alcohol. The groups consuming alcohol or placebo, respectively were not different from each other either in their social behaviour, or somatic symptoms, or the balance. Consuming alcohol in groups further enhances the true effect of alcohol on memory as well as the putative effect of (non) alcohol consumption on. Conclusions: When consuming only small amount of alcohol, the alcohol itself has only a minor effect on the subsequent behaviour. Most of the resulting psychological and physical consequences can be, in fact, due to the placebo effect determined by expectations and by the social environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMentalhigiene es Pszichoszomatika
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Alcohol
  • Balanced placebo design
  • Expectancy
  • Placebo
  • Social impact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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