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Thinking about the placebo effect as a “meaning response” and the implication for policy evaluation

Jed Friedman's picture

In recent conversations on research, I’ve noticed that we often get confused when discussing the placebo effect. The mere fact of positive change in a control group administered a placebo does not imply a placebo effect – the change could be due to simple regression to the mean.

Friday links Feb 8: the impact of going to the Maldives, skills training in Liberia, plastic bag removal in San Fran and more...

David McKenzie's picture

·         Early results from a skills training program for young women in Liberia show massive increases in employment and earnings – although a randomized pipeline design whereby the control group get the treatment about one year after the treatment group raise concerns about strategic delay by the control group and how long-term impacts could be measured.

Are John Henry Effects as Apocryphal as their Eponym?

David McKenzie's picture

Many people are aware of the concept of a “placebo effect” in medicine and of the idea of a Hawthorne effect – in both cases the concern is that merely being treated can cause the treatment group in an intervention to change their behavior, regardless of what the treatment actually is.

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