Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dreading pain can be worse than pain itself

Date:
November 21, 2013
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Faced with inevitable pain, most people would choose to get it out of the way as soon as possible, according to a new study.

Faced with inevitable pain, most people would choose to get it out of the way as soon as possible, according to a new study.
Credit: diego cervo / Fotolia

Faced with inevitable pain, most people would choose to get it out of the way as soon as possible, according to a new study.

Related Articles


Researchers from the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) at Imperial College London and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL asked 35 volunteers to choose between electric shocks of different intensity occurring at different times.

They found that most people chose to hasten the pain, and would even accept more severe pain to avoid having to wait for it. A smaller proportion preferred to put it off into the future.

They found similar results when they asked the volunteers to choose between imagined dental appointments involving different levels of pain.

The study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, is published in PLOS Computational Biology.

The anticipation of pain is a major source of misery. People who suffer from longstanding painful conditions report that the dread of their pain getting worse can be more disabling than the pain itself.

The research team sought to better understand the fundamental processes by which people anticipate pain, with the hope of providing new insight into these conditions.

In 71 per cent of tests, the participants chose to have the pain earlier, even though in half of the tests that meant a more painful stimulus.

Dr Giles Story, from the IGHI at Imperial, said: "When people are offered a reward, they prefer to have it as soon as possible, which could be interpreted to mean that we rate future experiences as less important when we're making decisions. This reasoning would suggest that you would put off unpleasant things to the future as well.

"We found that this isn't the case for most people. If pain can't be avoided, most people choose to get it out of the way sooner, even if that means the pain is worse.

"This might make sense if anticipating pain stops you from doing things well or enjoying yourself. We're planning to investigate this in our next studies."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. The original article was written by Sam Wong. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Giles W. Story, Ivaylo Vlaev, Ben Seymour, Joel S. Winston, Ara Darzi, Raymond J. Dolan. Dread and the Disvalue of Future Pain. PLoS Computational Biology, 2013; 9 (11): e1003335 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003335

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Dreading pain can be worse than pain itself." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131121184216.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2013, November 21). Dreading pain can be worse than pain itself. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131121184216.htm
Imperial College London. "Dreading pain can be worse than pain itself." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131121184216.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rehab Robot Helps Restore Damaged Muscles and Nerves

Rehab Robot Helps Restore Damaged Muscles and Nerves

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) A rehabilitation robot prototype to help restore deteriorated nerves and muscles using electromyography and computer games. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) A dongle that plugs into a Smartphone mimics a lab-based blood test for HIV and syphilis and can detect the diseases in 15 minutes, say researchers. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) An Italian doctor is saying he could stick someone&apos;s head onto someone else&apos;s body. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) reports. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

Newsy (Feb. 27, 2015) A new study from researchers at New York University suggests dentists could soon use blood samples taken from patients&apos; mouths to test for diabetes. 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