Mechanisms of Placebo Pain Reduction: An Empirical Investigation

Guy Montgomery, Irving Kirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Identical experimental pain stimuli were applied to the right find left index fingers of 56 university students, following the application of a placebo in the guise of a topical anesthetic to one of the fingers. The pain stimuli were administered simultaneously to treated and untreated fingers for half of the subjects and sequentially for the others. Significant and equivalent reductions in pain were reported in both conditions as a function of placebo administration. These data indicate that reductions of experimental pain produced by placebos presented in the guise of local anesthetics are not mediated by such global mechanisms as anxiety reduction or the release of endogenous opioids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-176
Number of pages3
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes


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