Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Social modulation of pain: A mediation model with shared reality and emotion

Ross, Lauren Page (2024) Social modulation of pain: A mediation model with shared reality and emotion. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (1MB) | Preview


Physical pain is a ubiquitous human experience with complexities spanning from physical to psychological domains. Though pain has historically been thought of as a physical and sensory process, the modern definition of pain now includes cognitive, social and emotional factors (Craig, 2002;; Williams & Craig, 2016), indicating growing appreciation of the impact of broader psychological context on people’s pain experiences. Support for this distinction comes from literatures exploring the many constructs proposed to moderate or mediate pain experience through psychological channels. In the pain literature social contact, which can include interactions with others, the mere presence of another person, or even the perceived presence of another person, often predicts reduced perceptions of acute experimental pain. However, this association is not always present and, at times, social contact enhances perceived pain (Che, Cash, Chung, Fitzgerald, & Fitzgibbon, 2018a; Che, Cash, Ng, Fitzgerald, & Fitzgibbon, 2018b; Krahé, Springer, Weinman, & Fotopoulou, 2013). The mixed influence of social contact may suggest that, in the face of pain, not all social contact is created equal. A parallel literature investigating the influence of emotion on pain perception demonstrates that modulating positive and negative emotion can more consistently predict pain outcomes, such that increasing positive emotion reduces perceived pain, while increasing negative emotion increases perceived pain (e.g., Zelman, Howland, Nichols, & Cleeland, 1991). Therefore it was hypothesized that emotion modulation resulting from social contact may predict perceived pain. Shared reality, the experience of validating one’s perception of reality through social contact, has been theorized to modulate emotion (Echterhoff, Higgins & Levine, 2009). Therefore the current work investigated sharing reality as a key moderator of the relationship between social contact and perceived pain. It was predicted that social contact involving shared reality would reduce perceived pain during a cold pressor task by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive emotions. Although hypotheses were not supported in the present study, it is hoped that this work inspires future research on the effect of shared reality on emotion and pain perception that will eventually elucidate interventions for pain reduction.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ross, Lauren Pagelpr6@pitt.edulpr6
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchumann, Karinakschumann@pitt.edukschumann
Committee MemberBinning, Kevinkbinning@pitt.edukbinning
Committee MemberBylsma, LaurenBylsmaL@pitt.edubylsmal
Committee MemberForest, Amandaforest@pitt.eduforest
Date: 21 February 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 December 2021
Approval Date: 21 February 2024
Submission Date: 9 December 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 45
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Analgesia, Shared Reality, Experimental Pain
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2024 18:32
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2024 18:32


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item