Bio


My research focuses on how changes in subjective mindsets - the lenses through which information is perceived, organized, and interpreted - can alter objective reality through behavioral, psychological, and physiological mechanisms. My work is, in part, inspired by research on the placebo effect, a remarkable and consistent demonstration of the ability of the mindset to elicit healing properties in the body. I am interested in understanding how mindsets affect important outcomes outside the realm of medicine, in the domains of behavioral health and organizational behavior. More specifically, I aim to understand how mindsets can be consciously and deliberately changed through intervention to affect organizational and individual performance, physiological and psychological well-being, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Academic Appointments


Professional Education


  • AB, Harvard University, Psychology (2005)
  • PhD, Yale University, Clinical Psychology (2012)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


https://mbl.stanford.edu/

Our lab focuses on how subjective mindsets (e.g., thoughts, beliefs and expectations) can alter objective reality through behavioral, psychological, and physiological mechanisms. Our work is, in part, inspired by research on the placebo effect, a robust demonstration of the ability of the mindset to elicit healing properties in the body. We are interested in understanding how mindsets affect important outcomes both within and beyond the realm of medicine, in the domains such as exercise, diet and stress. More specifically, we aim to understand how selective information through modalities such as media, marketing and labeling can inform mindsets, and how mindsets can be consciously and deliberately changed through intervention to affect physiological and psychological health.

Our research draws upon and integrates the psychology of schemas and appraisals within a range of disciplines including the science of the placebo effect, the behavioral economics of framing, and the sociology of valuation. We collaborate with an interdisciplinary web of scholars including psychologists, sociologists, organizational behavior scholars, and neurobiologists and employ a variety of methods, from experimental studies to surveys to field interventions. Though our approach is interdisciplinary and our methods multi-modal, our focus is precise: to bring together related streams of research to a) understand how mindsets shape reality and b) design interventions that can positively change health, performance and wellbeing.

Stanford Advisees


All Publications


  • Self-Fulfilling Prophesies, Placebo Effects, and the Social-Psychological Creation of Reality Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Scott, R., Kosslyn , S. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2015
  • Rethinking Stress: The Role of Mindsets in Determining the Stress Response JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Crum, A. J., Salovey, P., Achor, S. 2013; 104 (4): 716-733

    Abstract

    This article describes 3 studies that explore the role of mindsets in the context of stress. In Study 1, we present data supporting the reliability and validity of an 8-item instrument, the Stress Mindset Measure (SMM), designed to assess the extent to which an individual believes that the effects of stress are either enhancing or debilitating. In Study 2, we demonstrate that stress mindsets can be altered by watching short, multimedia film clips presenting factual information biased toward defining the nature of stress in 1 of 2 ways (stress-is-enhancing vs. stress-is-debilitating). In Study 3, we demonstrate the effect of stress mindset on physiological and behavioral outcomes, showing that a stress-is-enhancing mindset is associated with moderate cortisol reactivity and high desire for feedback under stress. Together, these 3 studies suggest that stress mindset is a distinct and meaningful variable in determining the stress response.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0031201

    View details for Web of Science ID 000316620300007

    View details for PubMedID 23437923

  • Mind Over Milkshakes: Mindsets, Not Just Nutrients, Determine Ghrelin Response HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY Crum, A. J., Corbin, W. R., Brownell, K. D., Salovey, P. 2011; 30 (4): 424-429

    Abstract

    To test whether physiological satiation as measured by the gut peptide ghrelin may vary depending on the mindset in which one approaches consumption of food.On 2 separate occasions, participants (n = 46) consumed a 380-calorie milkshake under the pretense that it was either a 620-calorie "indulgent" shake or a 140-calorie "sensible" shake. Ghrelin was measured via intravenous blood samples at 3 time points: baseline (20 min), anticipatory (60 min), and postconsumption (90 min). During the first interval (between 20 and 60 min) participants were asked to view and rate the (misleading) label of the shake. During the second interval (between 60 and 90 min) participants were asked to drink and rate the milkshake.The mindset of indulgence produced a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake, whereas the mindset of sensibility produced a relatively flat ghrelin response. Participants' satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed.The effect of food consumption on ghrelin may be psychologically mediated, and mindset meaningfully affects physiological responses to food.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0023467

    View details for Web of Science ID 000292809100006

    View details for PubMedID 21574706

  • Mind-set matters: Exercise and the placebo effect PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Crum, A. J., Langer, E. J. 2007; 18 (2): 165-171

    Abstract

    In a study testing whether the relationship between exercise and health is moderated by one's mind-set, 84 female room attendants working in seven different hotels were measured on physiological health variables affected by exercise. Those in the informed condition were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General's recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided. Subjects in the control group were not given this information. Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000245157900014

    View details for PubMedID 17425538