PAIN PERCEPTION AS A FUNCTION OF SELF-FOCUSED RUMINATION1

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Abstract

Pain sensitivity and tolerance were studied using the cold-pressor technique. A 3 independent groups design was employed using rumination as the independent variable. Group 1 was given a situation in which anger-related self-rumination was introduced. Group 2 was given a self-related rumination task in which anger was not induced. Group 3 received a rumination task not related to the self. In addition, the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory was given prior to the experiment to test the hypothesis that ratings on the Anger-In subtest would correlate with pain sensitivity. In each group were 6 men and 6 women. Each participant took the anger and another inventory not relevant to the present study before the experiment. An anger measure was taken before and after the experiment for each group to see if the anger induction in Group 1 actually increased anger. There were no differences among the 3 groups on the second anger measure, so differences between Groups 1 and 2 could not be attributed to anger. A 1-way analysis of variance for 3 groups showed a strong main effect on pain tolerance but not pain sensitivity. Groups 1 and 2 were significantly more tolerant of pain than Group 3. The correlation of ratings on the Anger-In (internalized anger) subtest fell short of statistical significance with pain sensitivity and also was not significant for pain tolerance. Results were discussed in terms of the possibility that self-rumination may increase pain tolerance by requiring a greater cognitive load than nonself rumination.

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