Set and setting

Set and Setting

The term was initially coined by Timothy Leary:


should incorporate a range of psychological
factors, including expectation and risk perception.[1]

This study investigated the role of preparation
and planning for a drug taking episode
and, as such, identified a version of set which
involved the intention to reduce the risk of
unpleasant side-effects, or even psychological
or physical harm. Common to the participants
was an awareness of the benefits of
being in a good state of mind prior to using
ecstasy, and the potential negative effects of
using ecstasy when burdened with feelings of
anxiety or depression. As such, these participants
could be said to control for set.[1]

Past life/drug experience

Previous experiences, particularly drug experiences may colorize future ones. For example, if an individual has a bad trip under the influence of a particular drug, the drug experience may have left some residual anxiety that can surface under the influence of the same or a similar drug in the future.

Current mind state and mood

Expectations for the experience

Perception of risk associated with the experience


‘Setting’ should include immediate
environmental surroundings when taking
drugs, the social networks around the user,
and broader socio-economic factors.[1]

Physical environment

The physical environment chosen for the psychedelic drug experience (inside/outside, weather, temperature, etc) can and will likely influence the quality of the trip. For example, members who've posted in Tripping Indoors or Outdoors? unanimously agree that being outdoors provides for a better experience than indoors (magic mushrooms).

Social environment

"Social support networks were described as being particularly important in
this respect." [interaction between drug, set, and setting][1]

Being in the presence of close friends is also generally regarded as being more optimal for an enjoyable psychedelic experience than being among strangers.

Cultural factors