Romantic Partners Can Help Cut Pain
Just the presence of a romantic partner can help reduce pain according to results of a study that included 48 heterosexual couples. The researchers from Austria and Spain assessed sensitivity to pain from pressure for each partner of the study couples. The investigators retested each participant when his or her partner was standing close by but not talking or touching. The researchers reported that in the presence of their silent partners both men and women were better able to tolerate pain and had higher pain thresholds. They noted that in one previous investigation, women experienced more pain when a same-sex friend was present than when being tested alone, but that most earlier studies have shown that talking, handholding and even viewing a photograph of a loved one helped reduce pain. This latest study was the first to show that the passive presence of a romantic partner can lead to less perceived pain.
Stefan Duschek et al, “Dispositional empathy is associated with experimental pain reduction during provision of social support by romantic partners,” Scandinavian Journal of Pain, August 21, 2019, DOI: doi/10.1515/sjpain-2019-0025
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