Can photos reduce pain?
Yes. Photos of loved ones can reduce pain and in some situations might be better than having the real person present:
These ﬁndings conﬁrm the notion that simply viewing a loved one’s picture can have pain-attenuating effects, and they ﬁt with social psychological research showing that being primed with a social construct is enough to activate associated mental representations and to bias behavior (Ferguson & Bargh, 2004). Thus, seeing photographs of loved ones may prime associated mental representations of being loved and supported, which may be sufﬁcient to attenuate pain experience. The ﬁndings suggest that bringing loved ones’ photographs to painful procedures may be beneﬁcial, particularly if those individuals cannot be there. In fact, because loved ones vary in their ability to provide support, photographs may, in some cases, be more effective than in-person support. In sum, these ﬁndings challenge the notion that the beneﬁcial effects of social support come solely from supportive social interactions and suggest that simple reminders of loved ones may be sufﬁcient to engender feelings of support.
Source: “A Picture’s Worth, Partner Photographs Reduce Experimentally Induced Pain” from Psychological Science
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