Taking rejection to heart: Associations between blood pressure and sensitivity to social pain.

Author: Inagaki TK1, Jennings JR2, Eisenberger NI3, Gianaros PJ4
Author Information:
1Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Electronic address: inagaki@pitt.edu.
2Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
3Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
4Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Conference/Journal: Biol Psychol.
Date published: 2018 Oct 20
Other: Pages: S0301-0511(18)30584-2 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.10.007. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 160

A reliable finding from the physical pain literature is that individuals with higher resting (i.e., tonic) blood pressure experience relatively less pain in response to nociceptive stimuli. Converging lines of evidence suggest that biological factors that influence the experience of physical pain may also relate to social pain. An open question, however, is whether higher blood pressure per se is a biological factor associated with lower sensitivity to social pain. This possible association was tested in three studies. Consistent with prior findings on physical pain, higher resting blood pressure was associated with lower self-reported sensitivity to social pain across individuals (Study 1 r = -.303, Study 2 r = -.262, -.246), even after adjusting for confounding factors related to blood pressure (Study 3 r = -.222). Findings suggest a previously unknown biological correlate of sensitivity to social pain, providing further evidence for possible shared substrates for physical and social pain.

KEYWORDS: acute pain; interoception; social disconnection; social rejection; tonic blood pressure

PMID: 30352273 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.10.007