Effects of responsibility and mood on painful task persistence

K. Ceulemans*, P. Karsdorp, J.W.S. Vlaeyen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and objectives: Not just avoidance behaviour, but also painful task persistence might be a risk factor for development and maintenance of pain complaints. In seeking to. understand these dysfunctional patterns of task performance, it has been suggested that mood influences the individuals' motivation to persist in a task depending on the interpretation of current mood within a certain motivational context. The aim of the present study was to test the effects of a social responsibility context and mood on persistence on a painful finger pressing task. Methods: A 2 Mood (positive vs. negative) x 2 Responsibility (high vs. neutral) between-subjects factorial design was used in which 79 healthy participants (53 women; mean age = 22.99 years, SD = 4.77) performed the finger pressing task. Results: The results show that mood and sense of responsibility independently influence task persistence: participants in a negative as opposed to positive mood spent more time on the task; the same was true for participants who reported a stronger sense of responsibility. In addition, an increase in pain during the task was associated with longer task persistence. No effect of pain-related fear on task persistence was found. Conclusion: This experimental study was the first to demonstrate an effect of sense of responsibility on persistence in a painful physical task. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-193
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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