People Discount Pain Of Those They Dislike


GHENT, Belgium, Oct. 4 (UPI) — Those around a patient they do not like are perceptually less sympathetic to such patients’ pain, researchers in Belgium said.

Study co-investigator Geert Crombez of Ghent University in Belgium said the study involved 40 participants — 17 men and 23 women — who were preconditioned by viewing pictures of six different patients tagged with simple descriptions that ranged from negative (egoistic, hypocritical, or arrogant) to neutral (true to tradition, reserved, or conventional) to positive (faithful, honest, or friendly).

Participants then observed videos of the patients undergoing a standardized physiotherapy assessment during which the six patients observed were experiencing shoulder pain. Eight short video fragments — 2 seconds in duration — of each were selected, resulting in 48 different fragments.

After each video fragment, the participants were asked to rate the severity of pain of the patients on a scale of “no pain” to “pain as bad as could be.” Later, the participants were also asked to judge the patients to be negative or positive, disagreeable or agreeable and unsympathetic or sympathetic.

The study, published in the journal Pain, found that participants rated patients associated with negative traits as less likeable than patients associated with neutral traits. They rated patients associated with neutral traits as less likable than patients associated with positive traits.

Further, pain of disliked patients expressing high intensity pain was estimated as less intense than pain of liked patients expressing high intensity pain, the study said.

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