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The Role of Resilience and Purpose in Life in Habituation to Heat and Cold Pain

      Abstract

      This study examined the role of resilience in habituation to heat and cold pain in healthy women (n = 47). Heat and cold pain thresholds were each assessed across 5 equally spaced trials. Resilience, purpose in life, optimism, social support, and neuroticism were assessed using self-report measures. The hypothesis was that the resilience and the associated resilience factors would be positively related to habituation to heat and cold pain while controlling for neuroticism. Multilevel modeling was used to test the hypothesis. When considering each characteristic separately, resilience and purpose in life predicted greater habituation to heat pain while resilience, purpose in life, optimism, and social support predicted greater habituation to cold pain. When controlling for the other characteristics, both resilience and purpose in life predicted greater habituation to heat and cold pain. Resilience and associated characteristics such as a sense of purpose in life may be related to enhanced habituation to painful stimuli. Future research should further examine the relationship between resilience, purpose in life, and habituation to pain and determine whether psychosocial interventions that target resilience and purpose in life improve habituation and reduce vulnerability to chronic pain.

      Perspective

      This article showed that resilience and a sense of purpose in life were both related to the ability to habituate to heat and cold pain in healthy women. These personal characteristics may enhance habituation to pain by providing the confidence and motivation to persist in the face of painful stimuli.

      Key words

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