Alone but feeling no pain: Effects of social exclusion on physical pain tolerance and pain threshold, affective forecasting, and interpersonal empathy

C. Nathan DeWall, Roy F. Baumeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

377 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior findings of emotional numbness (rather than distress) among socially excluded persons led the authors to investigate whether exclusion causes a far-reaching insensitivity to both physical and emotional pain. Experiments 1-4 showed that receiving an ostensibly diagnostic forecast of a lonesome future life reduced sensitivity to physical pain, as indicated by both (higher) thresholds and tolerance. Exclusion also caused emotional insensitivity, as indicated by reductions in affective forecasting of joy or woe over a future football outcome (Experiment 3), as well as lesser empathizing with another person's suffering from either romantic breakup (Experiment 4) or a broken leg (Experiment 5). The insensitivities to pain and emotion were highly intercorrelated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume91
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2006

Keywords

  • Affective forecasting
  • Emotion
  • Empathy
  • Rejection
  • Social exclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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