The Expectation Effect

Before I press down on the accelerator, I expect my car to move 'in a moment...' That's the Expectation Effect.

“In a moment, I’ll say a word and you’ll respond with…”

Hypnotists are keenly aware of the power of expectation in this common hypnotic setup.

The Expectation Effect is the basis for the placebo and nocebo effects we spoke about in our previous posts. We tend to get what we expect to get, “in a moment…”

My subconscious mind has no comprehension of time – which is why a full 8 hours after falling asleep, I feel that only seconds have passed. When I introduce an “in a moment…” expectation, my subconscious mind DOES IT NOW because it knows no other time frame.

In the case of the placebo effect, when I believe that a successful outcome is likely, “in a moment…”, my subconscious mind will set up that likely successful result before the treatment even begins. Of course, the SAME mechanism is involved in the nocebo effect – where I or my caregivers believe in a negative outcome – my subconscious mind will set that up just as well, just as soon.


I sense that it has something to do with my strong need to be right, which is at the core of survival. When I’m right, I tend to survive. Being wrong is a setup for failure. I don’t like failure nearly as much as I like success. When my mind hears, “in a moment…” it tends to initiate the expectation effect – subconsciously carrying out the necessary behaviors to accomplish the expected result – immediately – as a means of confirming its rightness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.