Trait Perceived Injustice Is Associated With Pain Intensity and Pain Behavior in Participants Undergoing an Experimental Pain Induction Procedure

Published:November 29, 2018DOI:


      • Perceived injustice could be construed as a dispositional variable.
      • Trait perceived injustice might reflect tendencies to see adverse events as unjust.
      • Trait perceived injustice was associated with higher ratings of pain intensity.
      • Trait perceived injustice was associated with pronounced displays of pain behavior.


      Recent research has revealed robust cross-sectional and prospective associations among perceived injustice, pain, disability, and depressive symptoms in patients with chronic pain. To date, research has proceeded from the assumption that perceived injustice arises as a consequence of debilitating injury or illness. However, it is possible that perceived injustice might have trait-like characteristics, persisting even in the absence of an injustice-related eliciting event. The aim of the present study was to develop and test a measure of trait perceived injustice (Trait Injustice Experience Questionnaire [T-IEQ]). The item content of the T-IEQ was drawn from the original IEQ and adapted for relevance to a noninjury context. A sample of 118 healthy undergraduates completed the T-IEQ, measures of just world belief, and trait forgiveness prior to participating in an experimental pain procedure. Pain intensity, pain behavior, and emotional responses were recorded during the painful induction. The T-IEQ had good internal consistency and test−retest reliability. The validity of the T-IEQ was supported by significant associations with measures of just world belief and trait forgiveness. The T-IEQ was also associated with pain intensity, pain behavior, and ratings of sadness and anger. Anger mediated the relation between the T-IEQ and pain outcomes. The results of the present study suggest that individuals vary in their trait-like propensity to experience negative life events as unjust and that trait perceived injustice contributes to adverse pain outcomes.


      The present findings suggest that perceived injustice might reflect an enduring tendency to experience negative life events as unjust. The findings also suggest that trait perceived injustice is associated with higher ratings of pain intensity and anger and more pronounced displays of pain behavior.

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