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Indirect acquisition of pain-related fear: an experimental study of observational learning using coloured cold metal bars.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(3):e0117236.Plos

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Previous research has demonstrated that pain-related fear can be acquired through observation of another's pain behaviour during an encounter with a painful stimulus. The results of two experimental studies were presented, each with a different pain stimulus, of which the aim was to investigate the effect of observational learning on pain expectancies, avoidance behaviour, and physiological responding. Additionally, the study investigated whether certain individuals are at heightened risk to develop pain-related fear through observation. Finally, changes in pain-related fear and pain intensity after exposure to the feared stimulus were examined.

METHODS

During observational acquisition, healthy female participants watched a video showing coloured cold metal bars being placed against the neck of several models. In a differential fear conditioning paradigm, one colour was paired with painful facial expressions, and another colour was paired with neutral facial expressions of the video models. During exposure, both metal bars with equal temperatures (-25° or +8° Celsius) were placed repeatedly against participants' own neck.

RESULTS

Results showed that pain-related beliefs can be acquired by observing pain in others, but do not necessarily cause behavioural changes. Additionally, dispositional empathy might play a role in the acquisition of these beliefs. Furthermore, skin conductance responses were higher when exposed to the pain-associated bar, but only in one of two experiments. Differential pain-related beliefs rapidly disappeared after first-hand exposure to the stimuli.

CONCLUSIONS

This study enhances our understanding of pain-related fear acquisition and subsequent exposure to the feared stimulus, providing leads for pain prevention and management strategies.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Research Group on Health Psychology, KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, Leuven, Belgium; Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, Ghent, Belgium.Research Group on Health Psychology, KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, Leuven, Belgium; Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 40, Maastricht, Netherlands.Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, Ghent, Belgium.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

25806969

Citation

Helsen, Kim, et al. "Indirect Acquisition of Pain-related Fear: an Experimental Study of Observational Learning Using Coloured Cold Metal Bars." PloS One, vol. 10, no. 3, 2015, pp. e0117236.
Helsen K, Vlaeyen JW, Goubert L. Indirect acquisition of pain-related fear: an experimental study of observational learning using coloured cold metal bars. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0117236.
Helsen, K., Vlaeyen, J. W., & Goubert, L. (2015). Indirect acquisition of pain-related fear: an experimental study of observational learning using coloured cold metal bars. PloS One, 10(3), e0117236. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117236
Helsen K, Vlaeyen JW, Goubert L. Indirect Acquisition of Pain-related Fear: an Experimental Study of Observational Learning Using Coloured Cold Metal Bars. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0117236. PubMed PMID: 25806969.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Indirect acquisition of pain-related fear: an experimental study of observational learning using coloured cold metal bars. AU - Helsen,Kim, AU - Vlaeyen,Johan W S, AU - Goubert,Liesbet, Y1 - 2015/03/25/ PY - 2013/11/22/received PY - 2014/12/22/accepted PY - 2015/3/26/entrez PY - 2015/3/26/pubmed PY - 2016/2/27/medline SP - e0117236 EP - e0117236 JF - PloS one JO - PLoS One VL - 10 IS - 3 N2 - BACKGROUND: Previous research has demonstrated that pain-related fear can be acquired through observation of another's pain behaviour during an encounter with a painful stimulus. The results of two experimental studies were presented, each with a different pain stimulus, of which the aim was to investigate the effect of observational learning on pain expectancies, avoidance behaviour, and physiological responding. Additionally, the study investigated whether certain individuals are at heightened risk to develop pain-related fear through observation. Finally, changes in pain-related fear and pain intensity after exposure to the feared stimulus were examined. METHODS: During observational acquisition, healthy female participants watched a video showing coloured cold metal bars being placed against the neck of several models. In a differential fear conditioning paradigm, one colour was paired with painful facial expressions, and another colour was paired with neutral facial expressions of the video models. During exposure, both metal bars with equal temperatures (-25° or +8° Celsius) were placed repeatedly against participants' own neck. RESULTS: Results showed that pain-related beliefs can be acquired by observing pain in others, but do not necessarily cause behavioural changes. Additionally, dispositional empathy might play a role in the acquisition of these beliefs. Furthermore, skin conductance responses were higher when exposed to the pain-associated bar, but only in one of two experiments. Differential pain-related beliefs rapidly disappeared after first-hand exposure to the stimuli. CONCLUSIONS: This study enhances our understanding of pain-related fear acquisition and subsequent exposure to the feared stimulus, providing leads for pain prevention and management strategies. SN - 1932-6203 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25806969/Indirect_acquisition_of_pain_related_fear:_an_experimental_study_of_observational_learning_using_coloured_cold_metal_bars_ L2 - https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117236 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -