Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Shared pain increases trust and cooperation.

Seriously, Science?By Seriously ScienceSeptember 16, 2014 3:00 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

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.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In