The influence of perceived control and self-efficacy on the sensory evaluation of experimentally induced pain

L.M.G. Vancleef*, M.L. Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background and aims: Prior research has demonstrated the role of perceived control and self-efficacy beliefs over pain in reducing pain and pain-related disability. The present study aimed to examine the independent influence of perceived control and self-efficacy beliefs on the subjective evaluation of pain. Methods: Healthy participants (N = 79) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions that were formed by manipulations of perceived control and self-efficacy. At two occasions in the experimental procedure pain was induced by means of electrical stimulation (16 s) to the lower forearm. Prior to and following upon each pain stimulus, participants completed ratings of pain intensity and pain unpleasantness. Results: High self-efficacy regarding the ability to exert control over pain resulted in a significant reduction in anticipated pain intensity, anticipated pain unpleasantness, and experienced pain intensity ratings. Furthermore, anticipated pain intensity was found to mediate the relation between self-efficacy and experienced pain intensity. Conclusions: It is concluded that in order to observe beneficial effects of offering control over pain, it is important that individuals are convinced (i.e. have high self-efficacy) that they are able to exert this control successfully. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-517
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Self-efficacy
  • Sensory pain
  • Pain resilience
  • FEAR

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