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Title: The lack of side effects of an ineffective treatment facilitates the development of a belief in its effectiveness
Author: Blanco, Fernando
Barberia, Itxaso
Matute Greño, Helena
Keywords: Aprenentatge
Psicologia experimental
Medicina alternativa
Ciències de la salut
Experimental psychology
Alternative medicine
Medical sciences
Issue Date: 8-Jan-2014
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Abstract: Some alternative medicines enjoy widespread use, and in certain situations are preferred over conventional, validated treatments in spite of the fact that they fail to prove effective when tested scientifically. We propose that the causal illusion, a basic cognitive bias, underlies the belief in the effectiveness of bogus treatments. Therefore, the variables that modulate the former might affect the latter. For example, it is well known that the illusion is boosted when a potential cause occurs with high probability. In this study, we examined the effect of this variable in a fictitious medical scenario. First, we showed that people used a fictitious medicine (i.e., a potential cause of remission) more often when they thought it caused no side effects. Second, the more often they used the medicine, the more likely they were to develop an illusory belief in its effectiveness, despite the fact that it was actually useless. This behavior may be parallel to actual pseudomedicine usage; that because a treatment is thought to be harmless, it is used with high frequency, hence the overestimation of its effectiveness in treating diseases with a high rate of spontaneous relief. This study helps shed light on the motivations spurring the widespread preference of pseudomedicines over scientific medicines. This is a valuable first step toward the development of scientifically validated strategies to counteract the impact of pseudomedicine on society.
Note: Reproducció del document publicat a:
It is part of: PLoS One, 2014, vol. 9, num. 1, p. e84084
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ISSN: 1932-6203
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Cognició, Desenvolupament i Psicologia de l'Educació)

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