Photo: flickr/dlee13Pain is a key element of many cultural practices of group initiation - from the paddling of fraternities to ritual tattoos and piercings. But the role pain itself plays in these traditions remains unclear; no scientific studies have tested whether pain actually has social effects. Until now, that is! Here, the researchers inflicted pain on participants via sticking their hands in ice water, having them perform leg squats, or making them eat hot chili peppers. They found a link between pain and bonding in small groups: subjects who underwent these painful experiences together felt more bonded with their fellow subjects and cooperated more in an economic game. Maybe this also explains why grad students feel so bonded by the end of grad school?Pain as Social Glue: Shared Pain Increases Cooperation. "Even though painful experiences are employed within social rituals across the world, little is known about the social effects of pain. We examined the possibility that painful experiences can promote cooperation within social groups. In Experiments 1 and 2, we induced pain by asking some participants to insert their hands in ice water and to perform leg squats. In Experiment 3, we induced pain by asking some participants to eat a hot chili pepper. Participants performed these tasks in small groups. We found evidence for a causal link: Sharing painful experiences with other people, compared with a no-pain control treatment, promoted trusting interpersonal relationships by increasing perceived bonding among strangers (Experiment 1) and increased cooperation in an economic game (Experiments 2 and 3). Our findings shed light on the social effects of pain, demonstrating that shared pain may be an important trigger for group formation." Related content: NCBI ROFL: Swearing as a response to pain.NCBI ROFL: Effects of playing video games on pain response during a cold pressor task.NCBI ROFL: Pleasure and pain: the effect of (almost) having an orgasm on genital and nongenital sensitivity.