Social comparison performance standards, threat, and tolerance for experimentally-induced pain

Jackson, Todd, and Phillips, Heath (2011) Social comparison performance standards, threat, and tolerance for experimentally-induced pain. European Journal of Pain, 15 (10). pp. 1081-1086.

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Abstract

Social modelling experiments have illustrated how upward social comparisons (i.e., observing pain tolerant role models) can facilitate tolerance relative to downward social comparison (i.e., observing pain intolerant alternatives). However, because clinical studies suggest that people prefer to make downward social comparisons with less fortunate others when they are threatened or overwhelmed with pain or illness, it seems plausible that upward social comparisons confer fewer benefits when pain is appraised as threatening. To address this issue, we assessed effects of verbally-presented upward and downward social comparison standards on tolerance for cold pressor pain among 124 Australian adults (44 men, 80 women) primed with either more or less threatening orienting information about task-related pain sensations. As predicted, participants exposed to the lower threat orienting prime and upward comparison performance standard were significantly more pain tolerant than peers in all other conditions. Conversely, the average tolerance time for participants presented with the higher threat orienting prime and upward comparison standard did not differ from that of either downward comparison group. The research highlighted powerful situational influences on tolerance for experimental pain and identified conditions under which verbally-presented upward social comparison standards may facilitate and hinder the capacity to bear pain.

Item ID: 21764
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: experimental pain; social comparison; threat; pain tolerance
ISSN: 1532-2149
Date Deposited: 02 May 2012 06:25
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance @ 50%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920413 Social Structure and Health @ 60%
92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920599 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) not elsewhere classified @ 40%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 2
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