paper examines the placebo effect in sports performance. The possibility
that the placebo effect is a more common phenomenon than the quantity
of published research would suggest is briefly addressed. It is suggested
that the placebo control design often used in sports performance research
masks any placebo effects and thus presents a false picture of the
mechanisms underlying performance-enhancing interventions in the real
world. An electronic survey was sent to 48 competitive, international
and professional athletes. Questions related to the placebo effect
in competitive sport. Thirty responses were received. Data indicate
that the majority (97%) of respondents believe that the placebo effect
can exert an influence on sports performance, and that a significant
number (73%) have experienced what they defined as a placebo effect.
Inductive content analysis reveals that these experiences fall into
several categories such as explicit placebo effects, inadvertent false
beliefs, ritual and reverse placebo effects. Furthermore, 10 respondents
(33%) offer explanations as to the nature of the placebo effect. Again,
inductive content analysis reveals that these explanations fall into
several categories including deliberate changes in competitive strategy,
belief/expectancy, faith in a third party, and marketing. Overall,
responses support previous experimental research and anecdotal reports
that have found a relationship between belief and sports performance.
It is suggested that further research be structured to not simply
control for the placebo effect, but to elucidate it.
WORDS: Belief, experimental design, performance psychology,