Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Thinking of a loved one can reduce your pain

Date:
November 14, 2009
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
The mere thought of your loved one can reduce your pain, psychologists report. The study involved 25 women who had boyfriends with whom they had been in a good relationship for more than six months.

The mere thought of your loved one can reduce your pain, psychologists report.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jacob Wackerhausen

Can the mere thought of your loved one reduce your pain? Yes, according to a new study by UCLA psychologists that underscores the importance of social relationships and staying socially connected.

Related Articles


The study, which asked whether simply looking at a photograph of your significant other can reduce pain, involved 25 women, mostly UCLA students, who had boyfriends with whom they had been in a good relationship for more than six months.

The women received moderately painful heat stimuli to their forearms while they went through a number of different conditions. In one set of conditions, they viewed photographs of their boyfriend, a stranger and a chair.

"When the women were just looking at pictures of their partner, they actually reported less pain to the heat stimuli than when they were looking at pictures of an object or pictures of a stranger," said study co-author Naomi Eisenberger, assistant professor of psychology and director of UCLA's Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. "Thus, the mere reminder of one's partner through a simple photograph was capable of reducing pain."

"This changes our notion of how social support influences people," she added. "Typically, we think that in order for social support to make us feel good, it has to be the kind of support that is very responsive to our emotional needs. Here, however, we are seeing that just a photo of one's significant other can have the same effect."

In another set of conditions, each woman held the hand of her boyfriend, the hand of a male stranger and a squeeze ball. The study found that when women were holding their boyfriends' hands, they reported less physical pain than when they were holding a stranger's hand or a ball while receiving the same amount of heat stimulation.

"This study demonstrates how much of an impact our social ties can have on our experience and fits with other work emphasizing the importance of social support for physical and mental health," Eisenberger said.

One practical piece of advice the authors give is that the next time you are going through a stressful or painful experience, if you cannot bring a loved one with you, a photo may do.

The study appears in the November 2009 issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Co-authors are Sarah Master, who earned her Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA; Shelley E. Taylor, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology; Bruce Naliboff, a clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA; David Shirinyan, a postdoctoral scholar at the Semel Institute; and Matthew D. Lieberman, UCLA professor of psychology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Thinking of a loved one can reduce your pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113151037.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2009, November 14). Thinking of a loved one can reduce your pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113151037.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Thinking of a loved one can reduce your pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113151037.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. 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