How tablet design can influence the potency of the Placebo effect

Note: This post is over 4 years old. It was first published in January 2010

We all know that design influences people emotionally, but have you ever considered the possibility that possibility that design alone can actually influence the health of your users? This article by Steve Silberman on wired.com (August ’09) discusses the psychology of tablet design and the placebo effect:

“[…] the placebo response is highly sensitive to cultural differences. Anthropologist Daniel Moerman found that Germans are high placebo reactors in trials of ulcer drugs but low in trials of drugs for hypertension—an undertreated condition in Germany, where many people pop pills for herzinsuffizienz, or low blood pressure. Moreover, a pill’s shape, size, branding, and price all influence its effects on the body. Soothing blue capsules make more effective tranquilizers than angry red ones, except among Italian men, for whom the color blue is associated with their national soccer team […]”


Excerpt from Steve Silberman's Wired.com article

Sadly, the information in the above box is presented, in typical wired.com style, without reference to any actual research. If you want to read more, you may want to check out Meaning, Medicine and the ‘Placebo Effect’, a book written by Daniel Moreman (the anthropologist mentioned in the quote).

→ Found via Hacker News.