Examination of three attentional strategies on pain coping and recovery from the cold pressor : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
The literature supports the role of attention diversion strategies in the modification of pain perception. Recently it has been suggested that the presence of an overt action is a necessary component of these often multicomponent tasks. Research has also indicated that attention distraction and suppression strategies may carry with them long term cost. The present study compares the effectiveness of three attentional strategies in an attempt to isolate the necessity of an overt response. It also examines for the presence of a long term cost of these strategies in the form of a rebound effect. Sixty eight subjects were randomly assigned to one of four strategies: suppression, distraction through visual detection, distraction through visual detection with a response, and control. There were no significant differences between the groups on pain tolerance and pain ratings or on recovery. The recovery from the cold pressor was found to be significantly related to the tolerance time. Subjects who were exposed to the cold water longer recovered more slowly. These results are discussed in terms of pain theory and future research.