Mollie A. Ruben, Judith A. Hall
Apr 11, 2016
Journal of Nonverbal Behavior
Accurate pain assessment is a joint function of both the judge perceiving correct (valid) cues of pain and targets displaying valid indicators of pain. The present research examined whether the judgeability of pain expressions could be altered by manipulating the nonverbal supportiveness of a videotaped physician who guided targets through an experimentally induced pain experience in the laboratory. Ten-s video clips of these targets during their pain experience were viewed by 95 naïve judges who assessed each target’s pain on an 11-point numeric rating scale. In addition, the video clips were rated by independent coders on 9-point scales (focused, calm, tense, distressed, composed, fidgety, determined, bored, and nervous). Judges’ pain assessment accuracy was calculated by correlating their inferred pain rating for each target with targets’ self-reported pain. Pain targets assigned to interact with the nonverbally supportive physician displayed more valid impressions of their pain and judges had higher pain assessment accuracy when viewing these targets compared to targets assigned to interact with the nonverbally unsupportive physician. Interventions for caregivers and healthcare providers that emphasize the importance of nonverbal behavior when interacting with pain sufferers are discussed.