Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Price Of Pain And The Value Of Suffering

Date:
April 26, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
A new study reveals that demand for pain relief is almost completely dependent on pain experienced in the recent past and the available cash on hand. That is, the participants were willing to pay more money to avoid pain if that pain was more intense compared to previous trials. In addition, the price they were willing to pay was based on what they were given (money-in-the-pocket) rather than on their overall wealth.

During these trying financial times, the cost of healthcare and how much we are willing to pay for it is at the top of our economic concerns. The financial value of pain has a wide ranging influence, affecting drug prices and injury compensation. But what about on an individual level — is it possible to place a value on our health, to prevent pain and suffering?

Related Articles


University College London psychologists Ivo Vlaev and Nick Chater, and neuroscientists Ben Seymour and Raymond J. Dolan were interested in just how much money volunteers were willing to pay to avoid pain and discomfort.

Study participants were given money, with the understanding that they could keep for themselves whatever cash remained. They experienced one pulse of electric shock and then had to indicate how much money they would pay in order to avoid receiving 15 more shocks of the same intensity.

Then, a computer program would determine how much the volunteers would actually have to pay. The program would randomly select a dollar amount — if that amount was higher than what the participants were willing to pay, then the participants would be shocked. However, if the computer's price was lower than the participant's price, then they would pay the computer's price and avoid the pain.

The volunteers were informed that the computer selection would be completely random, so it was really in their best interest to select a price that accurately reflected how they value the pain from the electric shock. For each volunteer, this process was repeated a number of times, with differing intensities of shocks.

The results, described in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that demand for pain relief is almost completely dependent on pain experienced in the recent past and the available cash on hand. That is, the participants were willing to pay more money to avoid pain if that pain was more intense compared to previous trials. In addition, the price they were willing to pay was based on what they were given (money-in-the-pocket) rather than on their overall wealth.

These findings suggest that the value we place on relief from suffering is flexible and that activity of health markets cannot be predicted by the behavior of individuals. This is the first scientific study showing that our reaction towards pain is a relative judgment, based on our previous experience with that pain. The authors conclude that pain is a major health issue and with around $60 billion spent on painkillers worldwide each year, they note that these findings "are likely to have substantial economic implications."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ivo Vlaev, Ben Seymour, Raymond J. Dolan, Nick Chater. The Price of Pain and the Value of Suffering. Psychological Science, 2009; 20 (3): 309 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02304.x

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "The Price Of Pain And The Value Of Suffering." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422175334.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, April 26). The Price Of Pain And The Value Of Suffering. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422175334.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "The Price Of Pain And The Value Of Suffering." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422175334.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins