Competition, Cooperation, and Pain Sensitivity

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Title: Competition, Cooperation, and Pain Sensitivity
Author: Ferri, Josie
Advisor: Sternberg, Wendy
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Psychology
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The sharp decrease in pain sensitivity during and immediately following competition experienced by athletes is a quintessential example of stress-induced analgesia. While anecdotal evidence exists regarding this phenomenon, research has yet to methodically investigate responses to painful stimuli during stressful competitive scenarios. The present study aimed to determine the competitive psychological scenario that would induce the greatest stress response and effort exerted, and therefore the greatest analgesic response. The results demonstrate that our scenarios induced a mild analgesic effect in cold pressor and thermal pain testing as well as a physiological change, particularly heart rate, proportional to the level of competition. Our experiment contributes to the current research data identifying the relationship between competition, gender, athletic status, and stress-induced analgesia.
Subject: Pain -- Psychological aspects
Subject: Competition (Psychology) -- Sex differences
Subject: Cooperativeness -- Psychological aspects
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Ferri, Josie. "Competition, Cooperation, and Pain Sensitivity". 2012. Available electronically from

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