The effects of parental presence upon the facial expression of pain: The moderating role of child pain catastrophizing


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Abstract

This experiment investigated the effects of child catastrophic thinking and parental presence on the facial expressions of children when experiencing pain. School children experienced pressure pain in either one of two conditions: (1) when observed by a parent (n = 53 children and their parent), or (2) when observed by an adult stranger (n = 31 children). Analyses revealed that children showed more facial pain expression in the presence of their parent than in the presence of the stranger. This effect was, however, only found for children with infrequent catastrophic thoughts about pain. Children who have frequent catastrophic thoughts expressed high pain regardless of who they believed was observing them. Results are discussed in terms of the social consequences of pain catastrophizing, and the variables contributing to the expression or suppression of pain display in children and its impact upon others.

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