Brown, Emily (2014) Anxiety and perception of pain: the role of personality and distractor Ttype. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The present research concerns personality type (extraversion and neuroticism), distraction type (relaxation and attentionally demanding), anxiety and pain tolerance. Previous studies have examined these variables individually; however no previous research has examined the interaction between personality and distraction type, and their effects on pain and anxiety. The study used an independent groups design.

Participants were exposed to a cold pressor, with their personality, anxiety levels (before and after) and pain ratings measured, as well as the time they spent in the cold pressor (pain tolerance). The distractions used were a maths quiz (which was designed to be attentionally demanding) and a piece of relaxing music. A control group was also used as a baseline, in which participants did nothing while their hand was in the cold pressor. Results showed no significant moderating effect of between personality upon the effect of distraction type, however there were several relationships between anxiety and other variables (namely time and pain rating); these were evident throughout all conditions. Anxiety also significantly increased from before the task to after the task, and there was a significant relationship between pain tolerance and pain rating, specifically in the music task. The maths task prevented anxiety from increasing to a greater degree than that seen in both the control and music conditions. There were some significant relationships between personality and other variables identified in the findings; pain tolerance and extraversion and anxiety (before) and neuroticism. To conclude, it would appear that anxiety has more of an effect upon the experience of pain than personality; however the current study has some limitations, such as the small sample size, which could have affected the results. Limitations and possibilities for further research are discussed.

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