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Pain. 2007 Jun;129(3):260-8. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

The effect of experimenter gender on autonomic and subjective responses to pain stimuli.

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Department of Psychology, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway.


Several studies have shown that male subjects report lower pain intensity to female compared to male experimenters. The present experiment examined whether experimenter gender also modulated autonomic pain responses. Sixty-four students (32 females) participated in a 2 Subject gender x 2 Experimenter gender x 15 Pain Tests mixed design. Six experimenters, three females and three males collected data. Heat pain was +48 degrees C induced to the right volar forearm. Subjective measurements consisted of pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, stress, arousal and mood. Autonomic responses were heart rate variability and skin conductance levels. The results revealed significant interactions between experimenter gender and subject gender on pain intensity and arousal, but there were no interactions in the physiological data. In conclusion, the lower pain report in male subjects to female experimenters is not mediated by changes in autonomic parameters, and the effect of experimenter gender is probably due to psychosocial factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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