Theme Month June - What do you expect?


It is June and time for a new theme! Before I tell you what this month’s theme is about, I would like to tell you a little story..

When I was about 8 years old, I was playing at my grandma’s house. I had a headache so I asked my grandma for an aspirin. She gave me one and I noticed that it tasted like peppermint. My grandma told me that these were aspirins with a different flavour. However, years later I asked her about this again and she admitted that she gave me a regular peppermint instead of a real aspirin.

…Do you already have a clue about this month’s theme?...

My grandma told me that she didn’t have aspirins and she thought the peppermint would work too as long as I believed it was an aspirin. So, my grandma made use of the expectations I had that this pill or medication would relieve my headache.

From research we know that health improvements are not always caused by the active ingredient(s) in the medication itself or by the specific clinical techniques used in therapy. Because of the patient’s beliefs, expectations or mindset a pill without active ingredients or therapy without the evidence-based clinical techniques could have positive effects as well. We call these health improvements placebo effects.

This month, we will focus on placebo effects. What are placebo effects and how do they work? Can placebo effects play a role in videogames for mental health and how? We will discuss these questions in the upcoming blogs and we will end with a more ethical discussion on the use of placebo effects in treatments.


Aniek Wols
Researcher at GEMH Lab

I am interested in how and why applied games for mental health work, with a specific focus on the influence of one's mindset, motivation and expectations.


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