Social impacts of pain tolerance

Social impacts of pain tolerance

We typically think of pain as something to avoid – an adaptive signal that something is damaging our body and we should do something about it. But there are a surprising number of circumstances in which we seek out small to moderate amounts of pain in everyday life. Runners’ high, eating hot chillis, and even dumping buckets of icy water over our heads for charity.

I am working with Dr. Brock Bastian to investigate the reasons why people willingly endure pain, especially in circumstances where others can observe them. Recent research suggests that people may be more willing to donate money to charity when the donating is accompanied by a painful act on their part. We are investigating whether people might look favourably upon others who endure such minor acts of pain, and whether an intuitive knowledge of this might drive these acts of willing pain.