It has been shown that pain impairs cognitive function, in this question and the following studies on the effects of headaches on cognition. Moor et al write

It must therefore be emphasised that headache pain appears to impair general task performance, irrespective of task complexity, rather than specific attentional mechanisms. Headache pain has an effect on the core cognitive components necessary for the successful completion of tasks, and in particular those involving the updating of the cognitive system.

Eccleston et al have shown that the degree to which pain disrupts cognitive processes is related to facts regarding the pain and the individuals psycho-social activities.

The interruptive function of pain depends on the relationship between pain-related characteristics (e.g., the threat value of pain) and the characteristics of the environmental demands (e.g., emotional arousal).

So, it seems that there is physiological and psychological factors that contribute to why pain interferes with cognition.

Are there personality traits that correlate with an individual's ability to cope with pain?


  • $\begingroup$ Similar, but not a dupe cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/3929/… $\endgroup$
    – user3554
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ nor do I, which is the reason I wrote Similar, but not a dupe and upvoted the question. $\endgroup$
    – user3554
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 7:09

1 Answer 1


Gathered from M. Pecina et al., “Personality Trait Predictors of Placebo Analgesia and Neurobiological Correlates,” Neuropsychopharmacology, doi: 10.1038/NPP.2012.227, 2012:

A recent study has found that personality traits appear to influence how strongly a person responds to a placebo treatment for pain.


Pain relief tended to be stronger in participants who rated themselves higher in the personality traits of ego resiliency and agreeableness and lower in neuroticism. [...] The facets that predicted placebo response most strongly were high altruism and straightforwardness (facets of agreeableness) and low angry hostility (a neuroticism facet that is also related to low agreeableness).

More thorough explanations are found in the link provided. Further information on the same study: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33300/title/Personality-Predicts-Placebo-Effect/


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