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Power of Placebo and Celebrity, Part 2

By Marcus | In Psychology | on October 17, 2011

Steph giving Mike one to the kisser!

In part 1 of this series, I touched on how exactly a placebo is defined. Today I want to look at why people put faith into such things, particularly when it comes into the realm of athletics.

Upon observation, one can see that many pro athletes are superstitious to some extent. For example, during his dominant run with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan was said to wear his basketball shorts from UNC under his uniform — in every game. Baseball players tend to venture towards some of the more extreme ends of superstition, from wearing titanium or magnetic necklaces, copper bracelets and other mystical gadgets purported to give them an edge. One explanation I have heard over the years is that at the upper end of athleticism, the tables are pretty even. Due to this, the top players look for any way to gain an advantage over the competition and can turn to some pretty wacky behaviors –such as hockey players growing a playoff beard, and who can forget Cerrano making offerings to Jobu so he could hit the curveball?

This superstitious nature extends to the fans as well. Some fans may feel the need to wear the same outfit whenever their team plays, always sit in the same seat at the bar or their house or follow some other ritual to ensure their team’s success. Part of this is due to the psychological effect of having a lack of control over events. People then turn to mysticism in an attempt to feel like they have some say in the end result. If they didn’t sit in their favorite seat, that must have been why their team lost!

As one can see, the realm of sports is prone to throwing logic out the window. When logical thought is discarded, conditions are ripe for placebos to be embraced. I’ve written before about a favorite book of mine — Influence by Cialdini. In the book, Cialdini talks about certain principles of influencing others and one of those is Authority. This is exhibited when people are willing to follow directions or recommendations of people to whom they attribute relevant authority or expertise.

In part 3 of this series, I will examine how this is used against you in marketing as well as what you can do to combat these tactics.

WOD 10.17.11

Press 3×5 or Wendler
Weighted Pull Up 2-2-2

50 yard Hill Run
20 KB Snatches
10 Burpees
Rest 30 sec

2 Comments to "Power of Placebo and Celebrity, Part 2"

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