How would you respond if asked, "How painful was your last shot?" You may think back to the last time you received a shot, and report the amount of pain you experienced, assuming that your answer to this question would be the same in any circumstance. However, research has shown a multitude of ways that your judgement may be biased, such as by the way the question is worded, or other variables affecting the testing context. The current study examines how photographs may serve to bias memory of physically and emotionally painful experiences. Undergraduate participants rated past experiences of common medical and emotional events. Each experience was accompanied by an image (i.e., a stock photograph) depicting this experience in a relatively negative or positive light. The hypothesis is that judgments will be more negative when the experience is accompanied by a more negative photo compared with when a more positive photo is presented. The results will inform theories of how we experience and anticipate painful events. It also has implications for public health and medical settings. For instance, if positive images are used to promote potentially painful medical procedures, it may increase willingness to adhere to medical recommendations.
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Polovsky, Dori and Wilson, Joseph, "The Effects of Stock Photos on Autobiographical Memories of Physically and Emotionally Painful Experiences" (2020). Research Days Posters Spring 2020. 70.