Can acetaminophen reduce the pain of decision-making?

C. Nathan DeWall, David S. Chester, Dylan S. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Psychological and behavioral economic theories have shown that people often make irrational and suboptimal decisions. To describe certain decisions, people often use words related to pain ("hurt," "painful"). Neuroscientific evidence suggests common overlap between systems involved in physical pain and decision-making. Yet no prior studies have explored whether a pharmacological intervention aimed at reducing physical pain could reduce the pain of decision-making. The current investigation filled this gap by assigning participants to consume the physical painkiller acetaminophen or placebo and then exposing them to situations known to produce cognitive dissonance (Experiment 1) or loss aversion (Experiment 2). Both experiments showed that acetaminophen reduced the pain of decision-making, as indicated by lower attitude change that accompanies cognitive dissonance and lower selling prices when selling personal possessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-120
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.


  • Acetaminophen
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Endowment effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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