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Increasing Optimism Protects Against Pain-Induced Impairment in Task-Shifting Performance

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Abstract

Persistent pain can lead to difficulties in executive task performance. Three core executive functions that are often postulated are inhibition, updating, and shifting. Optimism, the tendency to expect that good things happen in the future, has been shown to protect against pain-induced performance deterioration in executive function updating. This study tested whether this protective effect of a temporary optimistic state by means of a writing and visualization exercise extended to executive function shifting. A 2 (optimism: optimism vs no optimism) x 2 (pain: pain vs no pain) mixed factorial design was conducted. Participants (N = 61) completed a shifting task once with and once without concurrent painful heat stimulation after an optimism or neutral manipulation. Results showed that shifting performance was impaired when experimental heat pain was applied during task execution, and that optimism counteracted pain-induced deterioration in task-shifting performance.

Perspective: Experimentally-induced heat pain impairs shifting task performance and manipulated optimism or induced optimism counteracted this pain-induced performance deterioration. Identifying psychological factors that may diminish the negative effect of persistent pain on the ability to function in daily life is imperative. (C) 2016 by the American Pain Society

    Research areas

  • Optimism, pain, shifting ability, executive functioning, deterioration, POSITIVE EMOTIONS, GOAL ADJUSTMENT, NEGATIVE AFFECT, WORKING-MEMORY, CATASTROPHIZING SCALE, ATTENTIONAL CONTROL, EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS, HEALTH-BENEFITS, SELF-REGULATION, BUILD THEORY

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446–455
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Pain
Volume18
Issue number4
Early online date27 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017