Many people claim to play better golf with expensive brand name equipment. They justify the expense by claiming there are performance enhancing effects. But is this really true?
The latest study says yes. Social science researchers dug into the minds of golfers. They found that just by thinking you are using a brand name putter, even though it’s the exact same quality as a generic, does, in fact, make a difference in performance.
In recent years the researchers have focused on understanding the placebo effect. In the medical community, a placebo is anything that seems to be a “real” medical treatment – but isn’t. You take a pill, you think it works, but instead it’s a “fake treatment.”
As it turns out, there is a placebo effect for golf putters.
Research by Frank Germann, Aaron Garvey and Lisa Bolton from the University of Notre Dame shows that people take fewer putts when they think they’re using a brand name putter.
They assembled a group of volunteers and gave them a prototype putter. Half were told it was a Nike putter while the other half were not told the putter brand. Those who thought they were using a Nike branded putter did better than the group with the no-name putter.
Germann and his colleagues also found that the placebo effect works on mental tasks as well. In another experiment, volunteers took a math test and were given foam earplugs to block out sound. All of the earplugs were identical, but some thought they were using 3M-brand earplugs.
Those who thought they were using 3M-brand earplugs did better on the test. Moreover, volunteers using the brand-name product do not credit the product for enhancing their ability. They think did well on the test due to their abilities.
The conclusion to gain from the study: people feel better about themselves when undertaking tasks when they perceive a product is superior in quality. This in turn raises their self-esteem and lowers their anxiety, which leads to better performance.
What’s even more interesting is that this phenomenon affects only novices or beginners. If you’re an expert, you won’t experience the placebo effect.
So go try some brand name golf clubs if you’re a high handicapper. Not only will you feel better, you will play better too.