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The effects of a recalled injustice on the experience of experimentally induced pain and anxiety in relation to just-world beliefs

McParland, J.L.; Knussen, C.; Murray, J.


J.L. McParland

C. Knussen


Background: A growing field of investigation into social justice cognitions and pain suggests perceived injustice has a negative impact on pain, but little is known about individual variation in the impact of a perceived injustice. One published study found that individuals with a strong rather than a weak just-world belief reported greater pain from the cold pressor task after experiencing a perceived injustice, but an overt measure of perceived unfairness is needed to investigate this relationship.
Methods: Following the completion of just-world belief and state anxiety scales and the cold pressor task, 114 healthy participants were interviewed about either an experienced injustice or the characteristics of their home, before repeating the cold pressor task. Pain and anxiety measures were completed following each cold pressor task.
Results: Opposing the hypotheses, no differences were found on pain and anxiety between the two interview conditions and individuals with a strong just-world belief did not report higher pain and anxiety levels following a recalled injustice. However, within the recalled injustice condition, unfairness ratings were associated with significantly increased pain and anxiety.
Conclusions: Recalled personal injustice unrelated to one’s current pain experience had a negative impact on pain and anxiety associated with the cold pressor task. These findings indicate that intervention development should be cognisant of the role of everyday injustices and not just those related to pain, on the pain experience.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 31, 2016
Online Publication Date Mar 15, 2016
Publication Date 2016-10
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 16, 2017
Journal European Journal of Pain
Print ISSN 1090-3801
Electronic ISSN 1532-2149
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 9
Pages 1392-1401
Keywords Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Mar 24, 2016