It Hurts When I Do this (or You Do that): Posture and Pain Tolerance

Bohns, V. K. & Wiltermuth, S. S. (2012). It hurts when I do this (or you do that): Posture and pain tolerance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 341-345.

Posted: 29 May 2011 Last revised: 2 Feb 2016

Vanessa K. Bohns

Cornell University

Scott S. Wiltermuth

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Recent research (Carney, Cuddy & Yap, 2010) has shown that adopting a powerful pose changes people’s hormonal levels and increases their propensity to take risks in the same ways that possessing actual power does. In the current research, we explore whether adopting physical postures associated with power, or simply interacting with others who adopt these postures, can similarly influence sensitivity to pain. We conducted two experiments. In Experiment 1, participants who adopted dominant poses displayed higher pain thresholds than those who adopted submissive or neutral poses. These findings were not explained by semantic priming. In Experiment 2, we manipulated power poses via an interpersonal interaction and found that power posing engendered a complementary (Tiedens & Fragale, 2003) embodied power experience in interaction partners. Participants who interacted with a submissive confederate displayed higher pain thresholds and greater hand-grip strength than participants who interacted with a dominant confederate.

Keywords: Complementarity, embodiment, power

Suggested Citation

Bohns, Vanessa K. and Wiltermuth, Scott S., It Hurts When I Do this (or You Do that): Posture and Pain Tolerance (2012). Bohns, V. K. & Wiltermuth, S. S. (2012). It hurts when I do this (or you do that): Posture and pain tolerance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 341-345.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1853766

Vanessa K. Bohns (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

394 Ives Faculty Bldg
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Scott S. Wiltermuth

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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