Expectancy Effects and Strength Training: Do Steroids Make a Difference?

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 Manchester Metropolitan University
  • 2 University of Edinburgh
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Although expectancy has been shown to play a role in the effect of Anabolic Steroids (AS) on behavior, little research has been completed on the potential for parallel effects on performance. This is an important area for investigation because if expectancy effects can be shown to operate by improvements in performance through the administration of a placebo, arguments against the use of AS may be more successfully advanced. Accordingly, the present investigation used the administration of a placebo (saccharine) with competitive power lifters, using false information about the nature of the drug to delineate expectancy effects. The pervasiveness of these effects was further examined by disclosing the true nature of the drug to half of the participants, midway through the investigation. Notable improvements in performance associated with the belief that AS had been administered largely dissipated when athletes were informed as to the true nature of the drug. Results indicated that expectancy played a notable role in performance enhancement. Implications for this work include more effective use of such investigations in the fight against doping in sport.

Constantinos Maganaris is with the Department of Exercise & Sport Science at Manchester Metropolitan University, Alsager, ST7 2HL, England; Dave Collins and Martin Sharp are with the Department of Physical Education, Sport & Leisure Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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