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Review of The Expectation Effect by David Robson

This is an interesting review of the power of expectations in human experience, starting with a discussion of the importance of prediction and a startling study by Crum and Langer that I use myself in teaching. The study showed that the act of informing hotel workers about the amount of exercise that they were doing in their job not only changed their attitudes and beliefs, it also changed their physiology leading to declines in body mass, blood pressure and other indicators.

The author goes on to discuss the science of placebo effects as well as nocebo effects (the opposite). Although not included in the book, a recent study showed that up to two-thirds of side-effects from Covid-19 vaccinations would have happened whatever had been dosed – they are products of the mind and expectations and not the body. Other chapters cover the social effects of expectation, eliminating the pain of exercise, the paradoxes of healthy eating and stress-free living, building self-control, and living longer, happier lives.

This is a great overview of the power of expectations and a reminder of the power of mind over body.

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