Review
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World J Anesthesiol. Mar 27, 2014; 3(1): 18-30
Published online Mar 27, 2014. doi: 10.5313/wja.v3.i1.18
No pain, no social gains: A social-signaling perspective of human pain behaviors
Jacob M Vigil, Chance Strenth
Jacob M Vigil, Chance Strenth, Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-1161, United States
Author contributions: Vigil JM and Strenth C contributed equally to this work.
Correspondence to: Jacob M Vigil, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, MSC03 2220, Albuquerque, NM 87131-1161, United States. vigilj@unm.edu
Telephone: +1-505-2770374 Fax: +1-505-2770374
Received: June 29, 2013
Revised: October 24, 2013
Accepted: November 1, 2013
Published online: March 27, 2014
Core Tip

Core tip: This article introduces a social-signaling perspective of pain and pain empathizing behaviors, which hypothesizes that both exogenous and endogenous pain percepts evolved as part of more general expressive heuristics for demonstrating basic trait impressions (e.g., empowerment vs vulnerability cues) to different types of affiliates. Prototypical sex differences in pain sensitivity/empathizing may then reflect specialized expressive styles for regulating distinct relationship dynamics throughout humans’ natural history. We show how the perspective accounts for several findings on how social contextual factors (e.g., audience characteristics) and how structural and functional components of the individual’s social network appear to influence contemporary pain expression.