Publication of the week: Jenna L. Gillett & Emily Mattacola
24 August 2017
Gillett, Jenna L. & Emily Mattacola, “The moderating factors of neuroticism and extraversion in pain anticipation”, British Journal of Pain (2017). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2049463717728039.
Gillett and Mattacola conducted a study to investigate how personality might affect how much people anticipate something to be painful, and if this would change their experience of pain. Two specific personality traits, neuroticism (a trait encompassing emotional instability and anxiety) and introversion (a trait where someone is reserved and prefers solitary activities) have been previously suggested as making someone more likely to be fearful of pain, and therefore experience something as more painful. Participants were measured on these traits, and then placed into one of three conditions; one where the researchers informed them that the experiment would be very painful, one where they were told it would be bearable, and one with no such instruction. Their findings revealed that neuroticism and introversion, or the “neurotic-introvert” personality type, was not associated with greater anticipation of pain or worse experience of pain. It seems then that personality does not change the way we experience pain, and the “hypochondriac” label associated with someone with a neurotic-introvert personality type is not based on fact.