Gender differences in attention to pain body postures in a social context

Walsh, J, Eccleston, C and Keogh, E (2020) 'Gender differences in attention to pain body postures in a social context.' PAIN, 161 (8). pp. 1776-1786. ISSN 0304-3959

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Pain signals the presence of potential harm, captures attention, and can inhibit performance on concurrent tasks. What is less well known, however, is whether such attentional capture also occurs in a wider social context, such as when observing people in pain. In order to explore this possibility, we adopted a novel social-cue detection methodology: the bodies-in-the-crowd task. Two experiments are reported that consider whether nonverbal cues of pain, happiness and anger as expressed through body postures would capture and hold attention. Both experiments recruited 40 (20 male, 20 female) pain-free individuals. Overall, results show that pain postures do not capture attention any more than happiness or anger postures, but disengagement from pain postures was significantly slower across both studies. Gender differences were also found, and were more likely to be found, when crowds comprised both men and women. Male pain postures were more likely to capture attention. Whilst female observers had faster target detection speed, and were quicker to disengage from distractors. They also showed slower disengagement from female expressions overall. Male observers showed no variation based on target or distractor gender. Implications and potential directions for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: pain, communication, body posture, nonverbal behaviour, attention
Divisions: School of Sciences
Research Centres and Groups: Psychology Research Centre for Health and Cognition
UoA: Psychology
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Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 11:33
Last Modified: 17 May 2022 16:26
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