Attentional biases towards body expressions of pain in men and women

Keogh, E, Attridge, N, Walsh, J, Bartlett, J, Francis, R, Bultitude, J.H and Eccleston, C (2021) 'Attentional biases towards body expressions of pain in men and women.' The Journal of Pain. ISSN 1526-5900

14192.pdf - Accepted Version
CC BY-NC.ND 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


This study investigated whether there are gender differences in attention to bodily expressions of pain and core emotions. Three experiments are reported using the attentional dot probe task. Images of men and women displaying bodily expressions, including pain, were presented. The task was used to determine whether participants’ attention was drawn towards or away from target expressions. Inconsistent evidence was found for an attentional bias towards body expressions, including pain. While these biases were affected by gender, patterns varied across the Experiments. Experiment 1, which had a presentation duration of 500 ms, found a relative bias towards the location of male body expressions compared to female expressions. Experiments 2 and 3 varied stimulus exposure times by including both shorter and longer duration conditions (e.g., 100 vs. 500 vs. 1250 ms). In these experiments, a bias towards pain was confirmed. Gender differences were also found, especially in the longer presentation conditions. Expressive body postures captured the attention of women for longer compared to men. These results are discussed in light of their implications for why there are gender differences in attention to pain, and what impact this has on pain behaviour. Perspective:- We show that men and women might differ in how they direct their attention towards bodily expressions, including pain. These results have relevance to understanding how carers might attend to the pain of others, as well as highlighting the wider role that social-contextual factors have in pain.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: gender, pain, nonverbal communication, body, attention
Divisions: School of Sciences
Research Centres and Groups: Psychology Research Centre for Health and Cognition
Identification Number:
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2021 12:04
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2022 01:40
URI / Page ID:
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)