Encouragement or Distraction: The Effect of Verbal Encouragement on Mood, Attitude, and Motivation with a Cold Pressor Task
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Encouragement is a commonly used form of social support. Studies have shown that encouragement and other modes of social support can lower cortisol, increase pain tolerance and thresholds, and lower heart rate. However, encouragement has not been widely studied in the realm of psychological impact. This study was designed to explore the psychological benefits of encouragement during the experience of pain, specifically focusing on mood, attitude towards the experiment, and motivation. Verbal encouragement is compared to distraction because some have questioned whether the true function of verbal encouragement is distraction. A cold pressor task, placing ones hand in a bucket of ice water, is used to simulate a painful task. Participants are surveyed before and after the task and are split up into three conditions: Control, Encouragement, and Distraction. Results did not show a significant difference between conditions on mood, attitude towards the experiment, and motivation. However, an interesting result involving distress is questioned and further directions of study are proposed.
Brown, Amanda Kathleen (2017). Encouragement or Distraction: The Effect of Verbal Encouragement on Mood, Attitude, and Motivation with a Cold Pressor Task. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from