For wine to taste good, people just need to think it is expensive. A number of studies have shown that when people given plonk are told they’re drinking a £50 bottle, they tend to rate it more highly. Now, scientists have shown the placebo effect caused by people’s preconceived beliefs is so strong that it can change their neural processes.
For the study, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, volunteers were told they were being given five different wines, priced variously at £55, £28, £22, £6 and £3, while their brains were scanned. In fact, they were only given three different wines, with two different prices. In a second test, they were given identical milkshakes with labels designed to alter their taste perceptions in a slightly different way: some of the shakes were described as either organic or regular, others as "light" or regular. The researchers found that "price and taste prejudices" played a significant role in determining the participants’ experience: not only did they rate identical drinks more highly if they thought they were expensive, or organic, but their brains reacted differently to them too. However, some personality types were more susceptible than others to the labelling: for instance, people with low self-esteem, and those deemed to be "reward seekers".
Source: From The Week