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


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.

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