The Psychology of Pain Perception
Many people in today’s society are intrigued by how differently every person can perceive painful experiences and the variances between how painful something is for one person and how it is not painful for another at all. Everyone is looking for ways to make things less painful or even “pain free”, especially in the world of athletics. Researchers have investigated the psychology of the perception of pain in many different studies, as well as the emotions expressed during the perception of pain. My aim in this research is to gain a better understanding of how different coping methods and past experiences affect our perception of physical pain. I believe that there are many different techniques that can be used to increase our tolerance to pain and these are a few examples that I found.
An Experimental Investigation of the Effects of Preferred and Relaxing Music Listening on Pain Perception
Laura A Mitchell and Raymond MacDonald
In this study, the researchers were attempting to determine the effects of listening to different types of music and the participants’ perception of pain. In the beginning of the article, they explained that their question was if listening to music would lower one’s perception of painful stimuli and if that was the case what type of music would be the most effective. They hypothesized that based off other experiments that listening to music would lowered the perceived pain and that the most effective would be the participants preferred choice of music over the white noise and the specially designed relaxation music.
In the study, 34 females and 20 males ranging from the ages 18-51 with a mean age of 22, were recruited through advertisement within a university and paid for participation. The method the researchers used was a cold pressor stimulation through use of a circulating cold water bath. Each participant was required to immerse their hand the cold bath three separate times five minutes apart, each time with one of the three different types of music. The reason they each had to immerse their hand three times was due to the fact that each person has a different pain tolerance so they wanted the only independent variable to be the music that was being played to the participants via headphones. The participants were measured on their tolerance time, VAS, pain rating index, and perceived control.
The results of the study were thus, that when the participants were able to listen to their own preferred music they lasted significantly longer and had a lower perceived amount of pain compared to when listening to the experimenter’s preselected relaxation music and the white noise. Also the researchers found that in the case of females, the relaxation music was effective at letting them feel less discomfort due to painful stimuli more than white noise but not as effectively as their preferred music. Perceived control over the pain was significantly higher when listening to preferred music in both males and females than white noise and relaxing music. Relaxing music also received significantly higher ratings than the white noise.
This study is related to clinical psychology, since the purpose of the research is to discover another way to help patients to deal with the pain after major surgeries and operations. The power of music could potentially play a huge role in this field if it is concretely established that music can raise pain tolerance and lower perceived amounts of pain. Cognitive psychology also plays a role in this research study in that people had to make decisions based on how much pain they can stand and also the use of preferred songs adds in the cognitive process of memory and past experiences with the songs chosen for the participants’ CDs. Another psychological perspective that applies to this study is that there are individual differences. Each person has their own pain tolerance and their own preferred music so therefore...
References: Mitchell, Laura and MacDonald, Raymond. (2006). An experimental investigation of the effects of preferred and relaxing music listening on pain perception. Journal of Music Therapy 2006 Winter 43, 295-316
Smith, Noelle and Meuret, Alicia. (2012). The role of painful events and pain perception in blood-injection-injury fears. Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry Dec 2012, Vol 53 Issue 4, 1045-1048.
Stephens, Richard and Allsop, Claire. (2012). Effect of manipulated state aggression on pain tolerance. Psychological Reports 2012 Aug 111, 311-321.
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