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Sex differences in how social networks and relationship quality influence experimental pain sensitivity.

Vigil JM, Rowell LN, Chouteau S, Chavez A, Jaramillo E, Neal M, Waid D - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: Females showed higher pain sensitivity when their social networks consisted of a higher proportion of intimate types of relationship partners (e.g., kin vs. non kin), when they had known their network partners for a longer period of time, and when they reported higher levels of logistical support from their significant other (e.g., romantic partner).Conversely, males showed distinct patterns in the opposite direction, including an association between higher levels of logistical support from one's significant other and lower CPT pain intensity.The utility of a social-signaling perspective of pain behaviors for examining, comparing, and interpreting individual and group differences in experimental and clinical pain reports is discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
This is the first study to examine how both structural and functional components of individuals' social networks may moderate the association between biological sex and experimental pain sensitivity. One hundred and fifty-two healthy adults (mean age = 22yrs., 53% males) were measured for cold pressor task (CPT) pain sensitivity (i.e., intensity ratings) and core aspects of social networks (e.g., proportion of friends vs. family, affection, affirmation, and aid). Results showed consistent sex differences in how social network structures and intimate relationship functioning modulated pain sensitivity. Females showed higher pain sensitivity when their social networks consisted of a higher proportion of intimate types of relationship partners (e.g., kin vs. non kin), when they had known their network partners for a longer period of time, and when they reported higher levels of logistical support from their significant other (e.g., romantic partner). Conversely, males showed distinct patterns in the opposite direction, including an association between higher levels of logistical support from one's significant other and lower CPT pain intensity. These findings show for the first time that the direction of sex differences in exogenous pain sensitivity is likely dependent on fundamental components of the individual's social environment. The utility of a social-signaling perspective of pain behaviors for examining, comparing, and interpreting individual and group differences in experimental and clinical pain reports is discussed.

Show MeSH
Mean pain intensity ratings according to Sex and Logistical Support received from significant other (S/O).Level of S/O support is represented by values lower than and greater than the sample mean. Bars indicate standard errors of the mean.
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pone-0078663-g003: Mean pain intensity ratings according to Sex and Logistical Support received from significant other (S/O).Level of S/O support is represented by values lower than and greater than the sample mean. Bars indicate standard errors of the mean.

Mentions: As shown in Table 9, the final set of analyses examining the role of logistical support received from one’s S/O revealed a significant Sex x Logistical Support interaction term. Separate ANCOVAS entering Logistical Support from S/O, Experimental Condition, and the Logistical Support x Condition interaction terms as predictor variables (and hand immersion time and examiner gender as covariates) for males and females are shown in Table 10; these analyses revealed a significant main effect term for Logistical Support for males only. Figure 3 shows that the interaction was due to lower pain scores for males who reported higher levels of logistical support and to higher pain scores for females who reported higher levels of logistical support. Figure 3 likewise shows that the nature of the direction of the sex differences in pain intensity was dependent on the social variable, and magnitudes of the effect sizes of the differences (in opposite directions) were large.


Sex differences in how social networks and relationship quality influence experimental pain sensitivity.

Vigil JM, Rowell LN, Chouteau S, Chavez A, Jaramillo E, Neal M, Waid D - PLoS ONE (2013)

Mean pain intensity ratings according to Sex and Logistical Support received from significant other (S/O).Level of S/O support is represented by values lower than and greater than the sample mean. Bars indicate standard errors of the mean.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3818490&req=5

pone-0078663-g003: Mean pain intensity ratings according to Sex and Logistical Support received from significant other (S/O).Level of S/O support is represented by values lower than and greater than the sample mean. Bars indicate standard errors of the mean.
Mentions: As shown in Table 9, the final set of analyses examining the role of logistical support received from one’s S/O revealed a significant Sex x Logistical Support interaction term. Separate ANCOVAS entering Logistical Support from S/O, Experimental Condition, and the Logistical Support x Condition interaction terms as predictor variables (and hand immersion time and examiner gender as covariates) for males and females are shown in Table 10; these analyses revealed a significant main effect term for Logistical Support for males only. Figure 3 shows that the interaction was due to lower pain scores for males who reported higher levels of logistical support and to higher pain scores for females who reported higher levels of logistical support. Figure 3 likewise shows that the nature of the direction of the sex differences in pain intensity was dependent on the social variable, and magnitudes of the effect sizes of the differences (in opposite directions) were large.

Bottom Line: Females showed higher pain sensitivity when their social networks consisted of a higher proportion of intimate types of relationship partners (e.g., kin vs. non kin), when they had known their network partners for a longer period of time, and when they reported higher levels of logistical support from their significant other (e.g., romantic partner).Conversely, males showed distinct patterns in the opposite direction, including an association between higher levels of logistical support from one's significant other and lower CPT pain intensity.The utility of a social-signaling perspective of pain behaviors for examining, comparing, and interpreting individual and group differences in experimental and clinical pain reports is discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
This is the first study to examine how both structural and functional components of individuals' social networks may moderate the association between biological sex and experimental pain sensitivity. One hundred and fifty-two healthy adults (mean age = 22yrs., 53% males) were measured for cold pressor task (CPT) pain sensitivity (i.e., intensity ratings) and core aspects of social networks (e.g., proportion of friends vs. family, affection, affirmation, and aid). Results showed consistent sex differences in how social network structures and intimate relationship functioning modulated pain sensitivity. Females showed higher pain sensitivity when their social networks consisted of a higher proportion of intimate types of relationship partners (e.g., kin vs. non kin), when they had known their network partners for a longer period of time, and when they reported higher levels of logistical support from their significant other (e.g., romantic partner). Conversely, males showed distinct patterns in the opposite direction, including an association between higher levels of logistical support from one's significant other and lower CPT pain intensity. These findings show for the first time that the direction of sex differences in exogenous pain sensitivity is likely dependent on fundamental components of the individual's social environment. The utility of a social-signaling perspective of pain behaviors for examining, comparing, and interpreting individual and group differences in experimental and clinical pain reports is discussed.

Show MeSH