Faith and Skepticism in Biofeedback Learning

Charles J. Peek (Ph.D., 1976)

Thesis directed by Associate Professor Peter G. Ossorio

The popular definition of placebo is briefly reviewed and critiqued. An alternate conceptualization of placebo is offered, using faith as an explanatory term, which gives placebo a reality basis in molar behavior theory and shows connections to outcome in important contexts. Employing an explicated concept of faith, an experimental paradigm is described which demonstrates the conceptualization of faith in the context of biofeedback learning. This demonstration shows that faith and skepticism exert a significant effect on the speed of hand temperature training. The significance of this demonstration is that placebo need not be thought of as artifact but can be sensibly conceptualized in the language of molar behavior theory and experimentally manipulated to produce demonstrable effects. [104 pp.]