What question or hypothesis was being tested in this research: "Subliminal Self-Help Audiotapes: A Search for Placebo Effects"?  

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The article "Subliminal Self-Help Audiotapes: A Search for Placebo Effects," written by P. M. Merikle and H. E. Hanes, was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in October 1992. It addresses the question of whether self-help audiotapes using subliminal messages to promote weight loss are effective when participants believe...

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The article "Subliminal Self-Help Audiotapes: A Search for Placebo Effects," written by P. M. Merikle and H. E. Hanes, was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in October 1992. It addresses the question of whether self-help audiotapes using subliminal messages to promote weight loss are effective when participants believe that listening to the tapes will help them lose weight.

By comparing the weight loss outcomes for three different groups of participants, the researchers hoped to determine whether subliminal messages in self-help audiotapes were effective in helping participants to lose weight due to the placebo effect. One group listened to audiotapes containing subliminal messages, a second group listened to similar audiotapes that did not contain the subliminal messages, and the third group did not listen to tapes as part of the study. The researchers measured how much weight each participant lost.

The placebo effect is a phenomenon in which a treatment has an impact on a person's condition, such as an illness, because of the person's beliefs about the treatment, rather than because the treatment itself is effective. For example, patients who experience a reduction in pain when they are given sugar pills, believing they are pain relievers, are experiencing the placebo effect. If weight loss was due to the placebo effect in this study, the researchers would expect participants, who all believed that subliminal messages could help them lose weight, to lose more weight than the control group if they listened to the tapes. The study found that all three groups had similar weight loss, indicating that the tapes were not an effective tool for weight loss, even though the participants believed that they would work.

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A research question is a statement defining exactly what is being studied. Developing a research question is usually the first step in the scientific process after observation, and it guides the rest of the research. It allows the researcher to then determine how the study will be designed and what information will be collected. In this example, the research question is, “Is the effectiveness of subliminal self-help audiotapes a result of the placebo effect?”

The hypothesis is defined as the assumption or prediction the researcher is making about the results of the study. It is considered an educated guess as to the answer of the research question. For this particular research project, the hypothesis is that weight loss while using subliminal self-help audiotapes is the result of the placebo effect.

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The research question in this article was whether subliminal weight loss tapes have a placebo effect.

A research question describes what a research project is trying to find.  The hypothesis is the possible answer to that question, or what researchers think they will find.

The placebo effect is the idea that just getting treatment makes a patient feel better. In this case, the question was if listening to a weight loss tape would make you lose weight, or if in fact if listening to a placebo tape had an effect.

 In this study, three groups were used.  One group had no tape.  One group had a subliminal weight loss tape.  One group had a placebo test.  All three groups lost comparable amounts of weight.  This, the hypothesis and research question were not proven true.  The study determined all participants lost weight because they all knew they were in a weight loss study and were more conscious of what they ate.  Since the group with no tapes also lost weight, the tapes did not have an effect.

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