Art of Message

Art of Message – April 28, 2023

A surprising example of the placebo effect

Seth wrote about the so this post is a sort of a plugin to that one. Here’s the definition he uses for placebo: “a prompt for our subconscious to do the hard work of healing our body, increasing our satisfaction or maximizing our performance.

I like this: a prompt.

But is the prompt transferable? I mean, can someone else provide a prompt your subconscious – or only you? And if someone else can, who?

In the 1960s, Harvard psychologist Robert Rosenthal and San Francisco elementary school principal Lenore Jacobson found something surprising about the placebo effect.

They found that if a teacher was led to believe that a given student had enormous potential, that this student greatly outperformed their peers over the course of the year. Even when in reality, all students selected for the experiment were of average academic potential (whatever the f*ck that means).

Belief in their potential changed that.

But let’s be honest, was it belief by itself? Or was it 100s of little concrete actions that proceeded from that belief- more attention in reviewing work, more tolerance of missteps, more personalized assignments, etc? Beliefs and actions.

Here’s my takeaway, how do I make my product, which requires users to complete an extremely complex, multi-step form, believe in them? What actions can it take to express that belief?

And your takeaway?

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