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When the going gets tough, the tough get... more relief from a placebo?
Date:11/15/2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Are you good at coping when life gets tough? Do people call you a straight-shooter? Will you help others without expecting anything in return?

Those personality traits might do more than help you win a popularity contest. According to new University of Michigan-led neuroscience research, those qualities also might make you more likely to get pain relief from a placebo a fake medicine.

And, the researchers show, it's not just your mind telling you the sham drug is working or not. Your brain's own natural painkiller chemicals may actually respond to the pain differently depending on your personality.

If you're more of an angry, hostile type, they find, a placebo won't do much for you.

For the first time, the new findings link specific, established personality traits with an individual's susceptibility to the placebo effect from a sham medicine for pain. The researchers showed a significant link between certain personality traits and how much relief people said they felt when given the placebo as well as the level of a specific chemical that their brains released.

The work, published online today in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, was done by a team of U-M Medical School researchers and their colleagues at the University of North Carolina and University of Maryland.

The results build on nearly a decade's worth of work on the placebo effect by the team led by Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., the Phil Jenkins Professor of Depression in the U-M Department of Psychiatry, a professor in the Department of Radiology and a member of the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute.

The findings show that about one-quarter of placebo response was explained by the personality traits of resiliency, straightforwardness, altruism or anger/hostility, as measured on standardized tests. Other personality traits didn't appear to be linked to placebo response. The new results come fr
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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