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J Psychosom Res. 2001 Sep;51(3):479-85.

Experimentally induced anger, cardiovascular reactivity, and pain sensitivity.

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Division of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Leiden, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, Netherlands.


It was investigated whether an angry state, induced by a computer task with harassing comments, would lead to a decrease in cold pressor pain threshold and tolerance in comparison to a neutral situation. It was hypothesized that an increase in cardiovascular activity might partially mediate effects of anger. Furthermore, it was examined whether subjects given the opportunity to express anger would show reduced cardiovascular activity and pain report compared to subjects not given this opportunity. Finally, trait measures for anger expression style and hostility were included. The results show an increase instead of the expected decrease in pain tolerance for subjects in the harassment condition compared to those in the neutral condition. While cardiovascular reactivity was positively related to pain threshold and tolerance, increased anger was associated with increased pain report. It is suggested that anger and cardiovascular reactivity may have important but sometimes opposing influences on pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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