Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology



First Advisor

Lauri A Jensen-Campbell


Pain Overlap Theory (Eisenberger, Jarcho, Lieberman, & Naliboff, 2006) suggests that the affective experience of physical and social pain share the same phenomenological and neurocognitive correlates (MacDonald & Kingsbury, 2006). An important question is how individual differences in pain experiences in one domain (e.g., physical pain) influences pain experiences in other domains (e.g., social). Chronic physical pain is thought to be associated with changes in physiological and psychological processes linked with pain unpleasantness. For example, chronic physical pain is thought to sensitize individuals to potential harm to the point that the individual may attempt to avoid (or even overreact to) manageable situations (Sharp & Harvey, 2001). If Pain Overlap Theory is correct, persons who are more sensitive to one type of pain (e.g., social) should be more sensitive to the other type of pain (e.g., physical). The study was conducted in three phases. Phases one (prescreening) and two involved online questionnaires. Phase three had the participants (N = 162) come to the laboratory for a study they thought was examining how mental visualization versus face-to-face social interactions influenced sensory perception. Although it was anticipated that persons who experience chronic social pain or those who have greater sensitivity to social distress would report lower pain tolerance to physical pain, results did not support this hypothesis. It was also expected that persons who experience chronic physical pain or who report greater pain sensitivity would react more adversely to ostracism via a virtual ball-tossing game called Cyberball. The results once again did not support the hypothesis. Finally, it was expected that persons who were ostracized would report a reduction in physical pain tolerance from pre- to post- assessments compared to participants who were not ostracized or who were "included". Furthermore, this effect would be exacerbated for persons who experience chronic pain or who report greater pain sensitivity (regardless of the pain domain). Results did not support this hypothesis. Supplementary analyses indicated that the present study may have possible restriction of range problems by excluding victims and individuals experiencing chronic pain from participating.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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Psychology Commons