Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

April 1972


Published in Journal of Experimental Psychology 8 (1972), pp. 168–179. Copyright © 1972 American Psychological Association. Used by permission. “This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.”


Previous research indicated that anticipating arousal symptoms (rather than benign) from a placebo pill reduced inhibiting emotion in men, resulting in more cheating. The effect did not occur for women. Using 180 males, Study I tested whether the placebo effect was due to mere attention to arousal symptoms, or whether attribution to the pill was required. In the placebo- attribution condition the arousal placebo facilitated cheating (p < .02). The effect did not occur for symptom-attention controls who received no pill, and the conditions differed (p < .02).Study II tested whether women failed to respond to the placebo manipulation due to higher anxiety. Under one of four stress levels, each of 240 women received the benign or arousal placebo. More cheated with the arousal placebo only under low stress (p <.035), and stress conditions differed (p < .025). The interaction of attribution manipulations with the conflicting emotions of the cheating situation is discussed.