The suggestibility of itching and scratching, videorecorded

Observations During Itch-Inducing Lecture is a study published by German researchers in the year 2000. It delivers exactly what the title promises.

Professor Uwe Gieler [pictured here] at Justus-Liebig University in Giessen and two colleagues begin with the basics: “Itching is defined as a sensation associated with an impulse to scratch.”

They invited people to attend a public lecture called “Itching – what’s behind it?” The lecture was purportedly recorded for broadcast on television. In fact, the TV cameras were there to record what the audience did – whether people scratched themselves, or failed to scratch themselves.

The lecture had two parts, the first filled with slides of fleas, mites, scratch marks on skin and other visual stimuli that the scientists hoped would “induce itching”….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.