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Papers: 5 Dec 2020 - 11 Dec 2020


Human Studies

2020 Dec 07

Sci Rep



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Confidence in subjective pain is predicted by reaction time during decision making.


Dildine TC, Necka EA, Atlas LY
Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 07; 10(1):21373.
PMID: 33288781.


Self-report is the gold standard for measuring pain. However, decisions about pain can vary substantially within and between individuals. We measured whether self-reported pain is accompanied by metacognition and variations in confidence, similar to perceptual decision-making in other modalities. Eighty healthy volunteers underwent acute thermal pain and provided pain ratings followed by confidence judgments on continuous visual analogue scales. We investigated whether eye fixations and reaction time during pain rating might serve as implicit markers of confidence. Confidence varied across trials and increased confidence was associated with faster pain rating reaction times. The association between confidence and fixations varied across individuals as a function of the reliability of individuals' association between temperature and pain. Taken together, this work indicates that individuals can provide metacognitive judgments of pain and extends research on confidence in perceptual decision-making to pain.