Bret Harvey 
Member since Jan 26, 2016


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Re: “Is the Dodo Effect Dead?

This article motivated me to look up the original 1936 paper it cited, mainly because I had never heard of the intriguing “Dodo Effect”, which seemed to contain a logic error. The 1936 paper by Saul Rosenzweig does quote the Dodo from Alice in Wonderland (“Everybody has won, and all must have prizes”) and does address the possibility that any sort of psychotherapy could be beneficial simply because patients expect positive outcomes from skilled therapists (parallel to the placebo effect). But the paper assumes that all therapies produce equal outcomes only for the sake of argument and explicitly disclaims that assumption: “This assumption is not well-founded, for certain forms of treatment are very likely better suited than others to certain types of cases.” Clearly, different treatments could yield equal outcomes given a consistent therapy-related, placebo-type effect AND equal (perhaps absent) treatment-specific effects. But the occurrence of a placebo-type effect from therapy is not in conflict with the finding of different effects from different treatments like those cited in the Field Notes article on the superiority of cognitive behavior therapy versus psychoanalysis for treating bulimia. The “Dodo Effect” summarized as “all therapies yield equal outcomes” comes from an illogical misinterpretation of Rosenzweig’s paper, not from Rosenzweig – and not from the Dodo, who did not demand that all receive equal prizes.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Bret Harvey on 01/26/2016 at 4:30 PM

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