Do psychedelics change beliefs?

Renewed interest in psychedelics has reignited the debate about whether and how they change human beliefs. In both the clinical and social-cognitive domains, psychedelic consumption may be accompanied by profound, and sometimes lasting, belief changes. We review these changes and their possible underlying mechanisms. Rather than inducing de novo beliefs, we argue psychedelics may instead change the impact of affect and of others’ suggestions on how beliefs are imputed. Critically, we find that baseline beliefs (in the possible effects of psychedelics, for example) might color the acute effects of psychedelics as well as longer-term changes. If we are to harness the apparent potential of psychedelics in the clinic and for human flourishing more generally, these possibilities must be addressed empirically.


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