Taboo gesticulations as a response to pain

M. Jacobs, I. van Beest, R. Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Prior research indicates that swearing increases pain tolerance and decreases pain perception in a cold pressor task. In two experiments, we extend this research by testing whether taboo hand gesticulations have a similar effect. Study 1 focused on males and females who, across two trials, submerged an extended middle finger (taboo) and an extended index finger (control) in ice water until discomfort necessitated removal. Taboo gesticulation did not increase pain tolerance or reduce pain perception compared with the index finger control condition, as a main effect or as part of an interaction with condition order. While there was a gesture x gender interaction for pain tolerance, this was driven by an increased pain tolerance for the index finger gesture for women but not men. Study 2 focused exclusively on pain perception in males who, across three trials, submerged their hand, flat, with extended middle finger and with extended index finger, for 45 seconds each. Results again showed that taboo gesticulation did not lower pain perception, although it did increase positive affect compared with both non-taboo gesture conditions. Taken together these results provide only limited evidence that taboo gesticulation alters the experience of pain. These largely null findings further our understanding of swearing as a response to pain, suggesting that the activation of taboo schemas is not sufficient for hypoalgesia to occur.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Pain
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

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title = "Taboo gesticulations as a response to pain",
abstract = "Prior research indicates that swearing increases pain tolerance and decreases pain perception in a cold pressor task. In two experiments, we extend this research by testing whether taboo hand gesticulations have a similar effect. Study 1 focused on males and females who, across two trials, submerged an extended middle finger (taboo) and an extended index finger (control) in ice water until discomfort necessitated removal. Taboo gesticulation did not increase pain tolerance or reduce pain perception compared with the index finger control condition, as a main effect or as part of an interaction with condition order. While there was a gesture x gender interaction for pain tolerance, this was driven by an increased pain tolerance for the index finger gesture for women but not men. Study 2 focused exclusively on pain perception in males who, across three trials, submerged their hand, flat, with extended middle finger and with extended index finger, for 45 seconds each. Results again showed that taboo gesticulation did not lower pain perception, although it did increase positive affect compared with both non-taboo gesture conditions. Taken together these results provide only limited evidence that taboo gesticulation alters the experience of pain. These largely null findings further our understanding of swearing as a response to pain, suggesting that the activation of taboo schemas is not sufficient for hypoalgesia to occur.",
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Taboo gesticulations as a response to pain. / Jacobs, M. ; van Beest, I.; Stephens, R.

In: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Taboo gesticulations as a response to pain

AU - Jacobs, M.

AU - van Beest, I.

AU - Stephens, R.

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Prior research indicates that swearing increases pain tolerance and decreases pain perception in a cold pressor task. In two experiments, we extend this research by testing whether taboo hand gesticulations have a similar effect. Study 1 focused on males and females who, across two trials, submerged an extended middle finger (taboo) and an extended index finger (control) in ice water until discomfort necessitated removal. Taboo gesticulation did not increase pain tolerance or reduce pain perception compared with the index finger control condition, as a main effect or as part of an interaction with condition order. While there was a gesture x gender interaction for pain tolerance, this was driven by an increased pain tolerance for the index finger gesture for women but not men. Study 2 focused exclusively on pain perception in males who, across three trials, submerged their hand, flat, with extended middle finger and with extended index finger, for 45 seconds each. Results again showed that taboo gesticulation did not lower pain perception, although it did increase positive affect compared with both non-taboo gesture conditions. Taken together these results provide only limited evidence that taboo gesticulation alters the experience of pain. These largely null findings further our understanding of swearing as a response to pain, suggesting that the activation of taboo schemas is not sufficient for hypoalgesia to occur.

AB - Prior research indicates that swearing increases pain tolerance and decreases pain perception in a cold pressor task. In two experiments, we extend this research by testing whether taboo hand gesticulations have a similar effect. Study 1 focused on males and females who, across two trials, submerged an extended middle finger (taboo) and an extended index finger (control) in ice water until discomfort necessitated removal. Taboo gesticulation did not increase pain tolerance or reduce pain perception compared with the index finger control condition, as a main effect or as part of an interaction with condition order. While there was a gesture x gender interaction for pain tolerance, this was driven by an increased pain tolerance for the index finger gesture for women but not men. Study 2 focused exclusively on pain perception in males who, across three trials, submerged their hand, flat, with extended middle finger and with extended index finger, for 45 seconds each. Results again showed that taboo gesticulation did not lower pain perception, although it did increase positive affect compared with both non-taboo gesture conditions. Taken together these results provide only limited evidence that taboo gesticulation alters the experience of pain. These largely null findings further our understanding of swearing as a response to pain, suggesting that the activation of taboo schemas is not sufficient for hypoalgesia to occur.

M3 - Article

JO - Scandinavian Journal of Pain

JF - Scandinavian Journal of Pain

ER -