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The effect of affective pictures on pain unpleasantness

Schopman, A.M. (2009) The effect of affective pictures on pain unpleasantness.

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Abstract:A lot of research has been devoted to understand the relation between pain sensitivity and the psychological state of the individual. Considerable disagreement as to the direction of the relation still exists. The question remains whether emotional states modulate the pain sensitivity. This study examines the effects of 2 experimental emotional dimensions (valence and arousal level) on pain unpleasantness. Subjects were exposed to three different affective pictures (neutral, pleasant and pain related) which varied in their degree of arousal and valence. During the presentation of a picture, an electrical stimulus was applied to the left forearm. There were two different electrical stimuli, one below the pain threshold (nonpainful) and one above (painful) the pain threshold. Participants had to rate the pain unpleasantness on a VAS. Our analyses revealed that the emotional state of a person did not modulate the pain unpleasantness when the data was not separated on gender. However, when we separated the men from the women and the two different stimulus intensities (nonpainful and painful stimuli), the analyses revealed that the VAS scores of women who received nonpainful stimuli were modulated by the picture categories. Pain related pictures caused a higher pain unpleasantness compared to the neutral and pleasant pictures. This modulation corresponded with our empathy hypothesis: seeing pictures with people in pain induces pain unpleasantness. However, there were no significant findings for women who received painful stimuli and for men there were no significant findings at all. What we can conclude is that the emotional state of women, who received nonpainful stimuli, influenced their pain unpleasantness
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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