Alone but Feeling no Pain

Prior findings of emotional numbness (rather than distress) among socially excluded persons led the
authors to investigate whether exclusion causes a far-reaching insensitivity to both physical and
emotional pain. Experiments 1–4 showed that receiving an ostensibly diagnostic forecast of a lonesome
future life reduced sensitivity to physical pain, as indicated by both (higher) thresholds and tolerance.
Exclusion also caused emotional insensitivity, as indicated by reductions in affective forecasting of joy
or woe over a future football outcome (Experiment 3), as well as lesser empathizing with another
person’s suffering from either romantic breakup (Experiment 4) or a broken leg (Experiment 5). The
insensitivities to pain and emotion were highly intercorrelated



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