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Prior research has found that sex differences in pain are partially due to individual variations in gender roles. In a laboratory study, we tested the hypothesis that the presence of covert gender role cues can also moderate the extent to which women and men experience pain. Specifically, we varied gender role cues by asking male and female participants to write about instances in which they behaved in a stereotypically feminine, masculine, or neutral manner. Pain and cardiovascular reactivity to the cold pressor task were then assessed. Results revealed that, when primed with femininity, men reported less pain and anxiety from the cold pressor task than women. However, no differences existed between the sexes in the masculine or neutral prime conditions. The results indicate that covert gender cues can alter pain reports. Further, at least in some situations, feminine role cues may be more influential on pain reports than masculine role cues.
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- Concept priming and pain: an experimental approach to understanding gender roles in sex-related pain differences
Stephanie L. Fowler
Heather M. Rasinski
Andrew L. Geers
Suzanne G. Helfer
Christopher R. France
- Springer US