Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 540–546 | Cite as

“I have paid my dues”: When physical pain reduces interpersonal justice motivations

  • Lisanne van BunderenEmail author
  • Brock Bastian
Original Paper


In this study we show that experiencing physical pain interacts with justice related cognition and serves to reduce justice-restoring behavior in the context of interpersonal moral transgressions. This is because concepts of punishment and justice are embodied within the experience of pain, allowing for a sense of atonement from one’s wrongdoings. Two thirds of the participants were induced to feel that their performance in a two player game was unfair. Half of those participants were then asked to engage in a physically painful task, and were afterwards less likely to make amends for past poor performance compared to players who completed a similar, but non-painful task. This effect was only evident for participants who are particularly sensitive to personal injustices and therefore sensitive to the justice restoring qualities of pain.


Pain Morality Justice Punishment Guilt Reparation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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