The perception of pain in others: how gender, race, and age influence pain expectations.

Academic Article


  • UNLABELLED: Sex, race/ethnic, and age differences in pain have been reported in clinical and experimental research. Gender role expectations have partly explained the variability in sex differences in pain, and the Gender Role Expectations of Pain questionnaire (GREP) was developed to measure sex-related stereotypic attributions about pain. It is hypothesized that similar expectations exist for age- and race-related pain decisions. This study investigated new measures of race/ethnic- and age-related stereotypic attributions of pain sensitivity and willingness to report pain, and examined the psychometric properties of a modified GREP. Participants completed the Race/Ethnicity Expectations of Pain questionnaire, Age Expectations of Pain questionnaire, and modified GREP. Results revealed a 3-factor solution to the race/ethnicity questionnaire and a 2-factor solution to the age questionnaire, consistent with theoretical construction of the items. Results revealed a 4-factor solution to the modified GREP that differed from the original GREP and theoretical construction of the items. Participants' pain-related stereotypic attributions differed across racial/ethnic, age, and gender groups. These findings provide psychometric support for the measures examined herein and suggest that stereotypic attributions of pain in others differ across demographic categories. Future work can refine the measures and examine whether select demographic variables influence pain perception, assessment, and/or treatment. PERSPECTIVE: The findings suggest that one's expectations of the pain experience of another person are influenced by the stereotypes one has about different genders, races, and ages. The 3 pain expectation measures investigated in the current study could be used in future work examining biases in pain assessment and treatment.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Journal of Pain  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Pain Threshold, Racial Groups, Sex Factors, Social Perception, Stereotyping, Surveys and Questionnaires, Young Adult
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wandner LD; Scipio CD; Hirsh AT; Torres CA; Robinson ME
  • Start Page

  • 220
  • End Page

  • 227
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 3