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Self-injury, Rumination, Startle, Pain, Emotional Cascade

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In spite of the fact that pain is an unpleasant experience that is generally avoided, recent research suggests that there may be some positive conquences of experiencing pain, including a reduction in negative affect. Better understanding of the mechanisms that allow pain to reduce negative emotions is important for the study of emotional functioning across populations. The current studies tested whether pain disrupts the link between rumination and negative affect, as suggested by the emotional cascade theory. In two undergraduate samples, we used a novel task measuring startle magnitude and self-reported unpleasantness during rumination and distraction and before and after the experience of a painful and non-painful stimulation. Results across the two studies and a quantitative review were mixed. The main prediction that pain relative to no-pain would decrease negative affect during rumination received some support only for the startle measure. A secondary prediction that the pain-related decrease in negative affect would be larger in rumination than distraction was not supported for either measure. The results highlight the importance of understanding the effects of pain of different modalities of emotional responding.

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Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, v. 7, issue 2, p. 205-224

Journal of Experimental Psychopathology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal. Each article accepted by peer review is made freely available online immediately upon publication, is published under a Creative Commons license and will be hosted online in perpetuity.

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