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Pain. 2004 Nov;112(1-2):142-7.

The effects of experimenter characteristics on pain reports in women and men.

Author information

1
Institut für Psychologie, J.W. Goethe-Universität, Mertonstrasse 17, 60054 Frankfurt/Main, Germany. kallai@psych.uni-frankfurt.de

Abstract

The present study investigated the effects of two attributes of the experimenter (gender and professional status) on the report and tolerance of pain in male and female subjects. 160 non-psychology students (80 male and 80 female, aged 17-59 years) participated in a cold-pressor task. Subjects were assigned to one of 8 groups: male (M) and female (F) experimenters tested male (m) and female (f) students. In each combination (Mm, Mf, Fm, Ff), the cold-pressor task was conducted by either one of two faculty members (high professional) or one of two students (low professional). Subjects were asked to immerse their non-dominant hand as long as possible in cold water (-1 degrees C). Dependent variables were pain threshold, pain tolerance, and pain intensity. Results indicated a significant main effect for professional status of the experimenter on pain tolerance. Subjects tolerated pain longer when they were tested by a professional experimenter. Further, a significant interaction of experimenter gender and subject gender on pain tolerance indicated that subjects also tolerated pain longer when they were tested by an experimenter of the opposite sex. Additionally, a significant main effect for experimenter gender showed higher pain intensities for subjects tested by female experimenters. The observation that pain responsivity is influenced by the professional status of the experimenter might have implications for the study of pain in general and should be addressed in more detail in future experiments.

PMID:
15494194
DOI:
10.1016/j.pain.2004.08.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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