Fear of Pain May Be Worse than Actual Pain

December 13, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. dread [dred] (v.) – to fear extremely
Example: I dread medical operation.

2. inevitable [in-EV-i-tuh-buh l] (adj.) – cannot be avoided
Example: Physical pain is inevitable if one wants to be cured.

3. expect [ik-SPEKT] (v.) – to think that something is likely to happen
Example: The doctor is expecting her patient to arrive at the scheduled appointment.

4. principle [PRIN-suh-puh l] (n.) – an accepted truth or reality
Example: Psychology has set basic principles of human behavior.

5. necessary [NES-uh-ser-ee] (adj.) – something that is needed
Example: Evidence is necessary for any scientific study.


Read the text below.
A British research shows that dreading pain can actually feel worse than experiencing pain itself.

This phenomenon explains why most people would rather get rid of the pain than go through the dread of waiting for it to happen.

Dr. Giles Story of Imperial College London conducted the study involving 35 participants. The participants were asked to pick among electric shocks of increasing intensity.

The shocks were given in stages; and after each interval, the intensity increased. Dr. Story made the participants decide if they would be willing to increase the pain in exchange for less pain in the succeeding stages.

In most of the tests, the participants chose to experience pain earlier, rather than put it off. Dr. Story explained that most people are willing to do so since the pain is inevitable.

One reason why people tend to behave this way is because expecting pain causes many disadvantages. Dr. Story said that when we think about future pain, we become miserable.

This human behavior shows how less importance is given to future experiences when making decisions. If pain cannot be avoided, humans would choose to experience it sooner and get it over with quickly.

The conclusion of the study is evident in other aspects of life as well. This principle is true when it comes to deadlines. People tend to meet goals whenever there are time limits. In this example, deadlines are the necessary factor that individuals want to get rid of.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Based on your own experience, would you say that the conclusion of the study is true? Please explain your answer.
·         Do you agree with the saying “no pain, no gain”? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think having little concern about the future is good? Why or why not?
·         What are the possible benefits of being future-oriented?


December 13, 2013