From social events to physical pain

New research being conducted at Purdue University suggests a link between negative social events and the experience of physical pain. Researchers asked participants to recall a socially or physically painful event, and to write about it. Afterwards, they reported how they felt or worked on a mentally challenging task. Participants who recalled the social events reported more pain and re-experienced the event more intensely than those recalling physical situations. The “social” group also had more difficulty on the cognitive activity.

It’s probably no surprise that socially painful events affect people over a longer term than physical ones; studies on the long-term impact of bullying and social rejection have also suggested ongoing effects. We talked about anti-bullying programs on a recent episode of the Family Anatomy Podcast – we focused on one psychologist who believes punishment for name-calling is not the way to go. The Purdue University findings emphasize a need to work with bullies AND their victims to reduce the long-term impact of negative social experiences.

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