Can romantic partner support help ease physical pain?

February 02, 2016

ERIE, Pa. — Headaches, toothaches, stomachaches, pulled muscles, sprained ankles, broken limbs … everyone deals with acute pain at one time or another.

To help cope with pain, we often turn to a loved one, but does it actually have a positive effect? That’s the question Carol Wilson will attempt to answer when the Colloquium Series in Psychological Sciences and Human Behavior returns to Penn State Behrend.

Wilson’s talk, “Pain, Passion, and Parturition: Romantic Partner Support During Physical Pain,” begins at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the campus' Reed Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

During the presentation, Wilson, an associate professor of psychology at Penn State Behrend, will investigate how romantic partner support combined with perceptions of partners and relationships can influence a person’s ability to cope with acute physical pain. Data from first-time mothers’ pain during childbirth and women’s and men’s responses to muscle pain will be presented to outline who benefits most and least from supportive romantic partners during a painful experience.

Wilson’s research interests include romantic relationships, social support, pain, the transition to parenthood and relationship-based memory. She is currently investigating how romantic partners perceive and influence each other in stressful relationship-relevant contexts (e.g., money-related discussions, ischemic pain).

“Pain, Passion, and Parturition: Romantic Partner Support During Physical Pain” is hosted by Penn State Behrend’s bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in psychology degree programs and by the student Psychology Coalition with support from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the student activity fee. For additional information, contact Carol Wilson, associate professor of psychology, at 814-898-6082 or

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Last Updated February 02, 2016