Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 201-209

First online:

Pleasant and unpleasant slides: Their effects on pain tolerance

  • Sara Maltzman GreensteinAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota

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Pleasant imagery and focusing on pleasant slides have been found to be effective in increasing pain tolerance during noxious stimulation. However, since studies have not systematically varied the affective quality of the imagery or slides, there has been no way of determining whether the affective quality of the techniques is critical to their effectiveness. This study intended to examine the role of the affective quality of slides by using both pleasant and unpleasant scenes. One-half of the subjects also received a recall task that demanded added concentration, and thus increased the amount of distraction offered by the slides. The experiment consisted of a 2 ×2 design: pleasant versus unpleasant slides, recall versus no recall. There was also a control group, which received no slides or task. Subjects were 64 females recruited through undergraduate psychology courses and the university newspaper. The noxious stimulation was a cold pressor consisting of an enameled metal pan filled with ice water. The dependent variable was the length of time a subject kept her hand in the water. Chi-square tests corrected for continuity found that the unpleasant slides significantly increased the number of subjects who could tolerate the cold pressor test for the maximum time of 300 seconds as compared to the number of subjects in the pleasant slide conditions (χ 2 =10.15, p <.005) and the control group (χ 2 =5.076, p <.025).