Jacobs, M, van Beest, I and Stephens, R (2019) Taboo gesticulations as a response to pain. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 19 (2). pp. 397-406. ISSN 1877-8879

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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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) will be available online via Elsevier at https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0321 - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: taboo; gesticulation; cold pressor; pain tolerance; pain perception; swearing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2018 13:53
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2019 01:30
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5450

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