The maid hotel challenges the placebo effect.


The maid hotel challenges the placebo effect.

The holidays are over, and your waistline is about the same as your credit card. Now is the time to act! What do you do?

A) hit the gym.

B) solemnly promise never to accept another sweet, as long as you live.

C) hit the gym and make a solemn promise that you will never eat another sweet, as long as you live, or…

D) sit on the couch eating chocolate candy, and really believe that you’re doing a lot of rigorous exercise.

The answer to this multiple-choice test may not be as simple as you might think. In fact, harvard psychologist Ellen Langer (Ellen Langer) recent research seems to challenge the us about the relationship between body and mind – even the basic hypothesis of assumption of objective reality itself. This undoubtedly challenges our assumptions about the limits of the placebo effect.

Langer, a researcher, published some important and provocative studies. In this study, she decided to see if we had any effect on how much exercise we felt for the body. In order to do this, she studied the hotel maid.

As one casual observer of the hotel industry knows, the hotel maids spend most of their time dragging heavy equipment on endless corridors. Basically, they spend almost every moment of their working life doing some kind of physical activity.

But langer found that most of these women did not consider themselves physically active. She did a survey and found that 67 percent of people said they didn’t exercise. More than a third of the people in the report did not get any exercise.

“Because they’re exercising all day,” langer said. “it seems strange.”

Perception of important

More oddly, she says, although the study of all women are far more than the American surgeons daily exercise advice, but women’s body does not seem to have benefited from their activities.

Langer and her team measured the maid’s body fat, waist-hip ratio, blood pressure, body weight and body mass index. They found that all of these indicators were comparable to the amount of exercise the maid did, rather than the actual amount of exercise.

So langer set about changing his mind.

She divided the 84 maids into two groups. With a team, the researchers carefully completed each task they did each day, explaining how many calories burned in those tasks. They were told that the activity had met the surgeon’s definition of a positive lifestyle.

The other group had no information.

A month later, langer and her team came back to measure their bodies and were surprised by what they found. In people with education, systolic blood pressure, weight and waist-to-hip ratio decreased, blood pressure dropped by 10%.

One possible explanation is that understanding the amount of exercise they have gained has changed the behaviour of the maids. But langer says her team surveyed women and their managers and found no way that maids changed their daily habits in any way. This change, she argues, can only be explained by changes in the mentality of women.

In essence, langer is talking about the placebo effect. ‘if you believe you’re exercising, you might be better off,’ she says. Just as you believe you’re taking a pill, you’re actually taking a sugar pill – your body can sometimes work as a placebo.

This means that the “objective reality” of the body is not as unshakable as we assume. So, if there is a theoretical possibility of a true belief, people can sit and eat chocolate and still lose weight.

Placebo effects are limited?

But Martin Binks, director of behavioral health at duke fitness center in north Carolina, was skeptical of langer’s conclusions, even though he was impressed by the woman’s physical changes.

“When the maids receive this information, they are more likely to behave in a more positive and healthy way, thereby improving their health,” he said.

But Binks has a more substantive critique. He did not believe that he was able to produce this objective change in the body that he claimed to be.

“In general, the placebo effect is a subjective type of discovery,” he said.

Placebo, in other words, can help change your sense of pain, or feel that you feel depressed, but it can’t do some objective things, such as shrink the tumor or mitigate one-third of the waist.

Or is it ok?

Howard brody has been following this issue for years. Some relatively new research challenges the old assumptions that placebo effects only change subjective cognition, he says. He is the director of the medical humanities institute at the university of Texas school of medicine and author of the placebo response.

For example, brody noted a study that researchers gave asthma patients a drug that actually worsens asthma. When they give the drug to the patient, they tell them it can relieve asthma.

“A significant number of patients say that when you give me this drug, my asthma will improve, and when you measure the lung results, they measure better,” Brody said.

So the idea that the placebo effect applies only to subjective things is actually something that we have to ignore. ”

So maybe it’s really possible to sit on the couch and eat chocolate and lose weight. Of course I am willing to sacrifice and give it an old college try.


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