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Examining Affective-Motivational Dynamics and Behavioral Implications Within The Interpersonal Context of Pain

  • Tine Vervoort
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Tine Vervoort, PhD, Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, Ghent B- 9000, Belgium.
    Affiliations
    Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
    Search for articles by this author
  • Zina Trost
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
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      Highlights

      • Observer self- and other-oriented goals affect emotion and motivation.
      • Approach versus avoidance motives differentially affect observer caregiving behavior.
      • Emotion regulation may facilitate optimal interpersonal pain dynamics.

      Abstract

      Emotional, motivational, and interpersonal dimensions are considered integral to pain experience but have largely been examined separately. In this focus article, we argue that an integrative theoretical account that acknowledges each of these elements is a critical next step to capture the complexity and nuance of interpersonal pain dynamics and to shape future research. The aim of this focus article is to provide a foundation for such an account by drawing upon established insights from appraisal theory of emotion, influential behavioral models, empathy/interpersonal pain research, and social psychology literature to highlight conceptual relationships, potential mechanisms of action, and avenues of inquiry that have not previously been examined in the context of pain. Specifically, we highlight the interpersonal nature of pain and the conceptual relationship between emotion and motivation in pain experience. We discuss an affective-motivational tension between self- and other-oriented goals that can arise within the interpersonal pain context, and how such dynamics may affect the nature and effectiveness of caregiving behavior. We then describe the role of emotion regulation and strategies that may facilitate optimal interpersonal pain dynamics and caregiving within a multiple goal context. Finally, we outline a foundation for an integrative theoretical model and directions for future research.

      Perspective

      Drawing upon insights from appraisal theory of emotion, empathy/interpersonal pain research, influential behavioral models, and social psychology literature, this focus article provides a foundation for an integrative affective-motivational account of interpersonal pain dynamics as a basis for theoretical and clinical advancement.

      Key words

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