Do unpleasant sounds influence pain perception? The relationship between negative emotions, dental soundscapes and pain tolerance
Background: Dental treatment might involve invasive and potentially painful procedures, and most people report having experienced some degree of pain and negative emotions related to dental treatment. Experiences of painful treatment appear related to development and maintenance of dental anxiety. Since it has been documented that negative emotions influence perception of pain we sought to investigate if sound stimuli from dental treatment are perceived as unpleasant and how this might influence pain tolerance. Materials and Method: Fifty-six participants, 32 females and 24 males, were randomly distributed to listen to binaural audio recordings (soundscapes) from either a dental treatment situation or a walk at the beach. Participants rated the sounds for unpleasantness, and preand post measurements of pain tolerance were made with the PainMatcher device. Results: The results show that the sounds in the intervention group was perceived as more unpleasant (M = 4.32, SD = .83) than the sounds in the control group (M = 2.28, SD = 1.34), t(54) = 6.99, p < .001. No difference was found between pre and post pain tolerance measurements for the “dental” and “nature” groups. However, when groups were made based on self-reported unpleasantness, there was a difference in post pain tolerance measurements indicating that participants exposed to an unpleasant soundscape exhibited lower pain tolerance (M = 18.69) than participants perceiving sounds as less unpleasant (M = 25.90), F(1) = 6.87, p < .05. Conclusion: There was no significant reduction in pain tolerance between pre and post measurements based on the predetermined groups. Significant pain tolerance reduction was found for post measurements when the participants were divided in groups according to their self-reported unpleasantness.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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