Impact of pain behaviors on evaluations of warmth and competence

C.E. Ashton-James, D.C. Richardson, A.C. de C. Williams, N. Bianchi-Berthouze, P.H. Dekker

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigated the social judgments that are made about people who appear to be in pain. Fifty-six participants viewed 2 video clips of human figures exercising. The videos were created by a motion tracking system, and showed dots that had been placed at various points on the body, so that body motion was the only visible cue. One of the figures displayed pain behaviors (eg, rubbing, holding, hesitating), while the other did not. Without any other information about the person in each video, participants evaluated each person on a variety of attributes associated with interpersonal warmth, competence, mood, and physical fitness. As well as judging them to be in more pain, participants evaluated the person who displayed pain behavior as less warm and less competent than the person who did not display pain behavior. In addition, the person who displayed pain behavior was perceived to be in a more negative mood and to have poorer physical fitness than the person who did not, and these perceptions contributed to the impact of pain behaviors on evaluations of warmth and competence, respectively. The implications of these negative social evaluations for social relationships, well-being, and pain assessment in persons in chronic pain are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2656-2661
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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