Acceptance-Based Emotion Regulation Reduces Subjective and Physiological Pain Responses

Valentina Haspert*, Matthias J. Wieser, Paul Pauli, Philipp Reicherts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Acceptance-based regulation of pain, which focuses on the allowing of pain and pain related thoughts and emotions, was found to modulate pain. However, results so far are inconsistent regarding different pain modalities and indices. Moreover, studies so far often lack a suitable control condition, focus on behavioral pain measures rather than physiological correlates, and often use between-subject designs, which potentially impede the evaluation of the effectiveness of the strategies. Therefore, we investigated whether acceptance-based strategies can reduce subjective and physiological markers of acute pain in comparison to a control condition in a within-subject design. To this end, participants (N = 30) completed 24 trials comprising 10 s of heat pain stimulation. Each trial started with a cue instructing participants to welcome and experience pain (acceptance trials) or to react to the pain as it is without employing any regulation strategies (control trials). In addition to pain intensity and unpleasantness ratings, heart rate (HR) and skin conductance (SC) were recorded. Results showed significantly decreased pain intensity and unpleasantness ratings for acceptance compared to control trials. Additionally, HR was significantly lower during acceptance compared to control trials, whereas SC revealed no significant differences. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of acceptance-based strategies in reducing subjective and physiological pain responses relative to a control condition, even after short training. Therefore, the systematic investigation of acceptance in different pain modalities in healthy and chronic pain patients is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1514
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Christian Kaiser for assisting in data collection and preparation. Funding. This publication was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and supported by the Open Access Publication Fund of the University of W?rzburg. This work was supported by the Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. and conducted within the doctoral project ?Resilience factors in pain processing.? This work was also supported by the Research Group ?Emotion and Behavior,? FOR 605, Wi2714/3-2, which was sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG). This project was realized with the support of the structured doctoral programs ?Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS)? by the University of W?rzburg and ?Biopsychology of Pain and Emotions? by the Universities of W?rzburg and Bamberg.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Haspert, Wieser, Pauli and Reicherts.

Research programs



Dive into the research topics of 'Acceptance-Based Emotion Regulation Reduces Subjective and Physiological Pain Responses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this