Suzanne G. Helfer

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OBJECTIVE Prior investigations have failed to find reliable personality differences in placebo responding. The present study tests the hypothesis that personality and situational variables interact to determine placebo responding. METHODS Optimists and pessimists were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. In the first condition, the participants(More)
BACKGROUND Prior studies with patient samples have found dispositional optimism to be associated with less pain. PURPOSE We examined the relationship between optimism and experimental pain. It was hypothesized that optimists generally cope with a painful stimulus by mentally disengaging from the pain. However, if optimists are prompted to think about(More)
It has been theorized that expectations are an important causal determinant of the placebo effect. Placebo expectations, however, do not always yield placebo effects. In a laboratory study, we tested the hypothesis that one's level of somatic focus moderates the effect of placebo expectations on placebo responding. We also varied whether participants were(More)
OBJECTIVE Increased blood pressure is associated with decreased reports of aversiveness for both physical pain and psychosocial stressors. Based on these findings, higher blood pressure could be associated with altered emotional responses to a broader range of stimuli. There are at least 3 ways this could happen: a) less dire response to negative stimuli(More)
BACKGROUND Coronary heart disease (CHD) in women is strongly associated with estrogen deprivation. For example, risk for CHD increases dramatically after menopause. However, the role of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in CHD prevention currently is unresolved. To better understand CHD in women, the precise mechanisms by which estrogen affects circulatory(More)
UNLABELLED Based on prior research identifying dispositional optimism as a predictor of placebo responding, the present study tested the hypothesis that individuals high in optimism would be more likely to respond to a placebo analgesic. Optimists and pessimists were randomly assigned to a placebo expectation condition or a no expectation condition before a(More)
In modern health care, individuals frequently exercise choice over health treatment alternatives. A growing body of research suggests that when individuals choose between treatment options, treatment effectiveness can increase, although little experimental evidence exists clarifying this effect. Four studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that(More)
Motivational factors receive little attention in current theories of the placebo effect. Reasons for this position are reviewed, and an argument is made for reconsidering the influence of motivation on the placebo effect. The authors hypothesize that nonconscious goals alter reactions to a placebo expectation. Specifically, the authors predict that the(More)
In a laboratory study we examined the hypothesis that placebo expectations enhance the initial identification of placebo-relevant sensations over placebo-irrelevant sensations. Participants (N = 102) were randomly assigned to one of three expectation groups. In the first group, participants ingested a placebo capsule and were told it was caffeine (deceptive(More)
OBJECTIVE A prior investigation found that individuals low in optimism are more likely to follow a negative placebo (nocebo) expectation. The present study tested the hypothesis that individuals high in optimism are more likely to follow a positive placebo expectation. METHODS Individuals (N=56) varying in their level of optimism were randomly assigned to(More)