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Psychol Health Med. 2017 Jun;22(5):564-569. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2016.1191656. Epub 2016 May 26.

Psychological effects of deep-breathing: the impact of expectancy-priming.

Author information

1
a Institute of Health Promotion and Sport Sciences , Eötvös Loránd University , Budapest , Hungary.

Abstract

Outcome expectancy could mediate the psychological effects of exercise-related interventions, which implies that part of the psychological benefits of physical activity could be ascribed to placebo effects. In this framed field-experiment, 89 healthy participants were studied in three groups, (1) breathing-primed (deep-breathing with an exercise-related expectancy), (2) breathing-unprimed (deep-breathing with no exercise-related expectancy), and (3) control (no intervention). Deep-breathing lasted for three minutes. Before and after deep-breathing, or sitting quietly in the control group, participants completed two questionnaires assessing their positive- and negative affect (NA) and subjective well-being (WB). In contrast to the control group, both the breathing-primed and breathing-unprimed groups showed decreased NA and increased subjective WB. The breathing-primed group reported larger changes in WB than the breathing-unprimed group, in addition to also exhibiting significant increases in positive affect. These findings support the hypothesis of the work that expectations mediate the psychological effects of deep-breathing beyond the intervention's specific effects. Therefore, future research should control for expectations related to an intervention when gauging psychological changes.

KEYWORDS:

Anticipation; conditioning; exercise; mood; placebo

PMID:
27231047
DOI:
10.1080/13548506.2016.1191656
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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