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When More Pain Is Preferred to Less: Adding a Better End

Daniel Kahneman, Barbara L. Fredrickson, Charles A. Schreiber and Donald A. Redelmeier
Psychological Science
Vol. 4, No. 6 (Nov., 1993), pp. 401-405
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40062570
Page Count: 5
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When More Pain Is Preferred to Less: Adding a Better End
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Abstract

Subjects were exposed to two aversive experiences: in the short trial, they immersed one hand in water at 14 °C for 60 s; in the long trial, they immersed the other hand at 14 °C for 60 s, then kept the hand in the water 30 s longer as the temperature of the water was gradually raised to 15 °C, still painful but distinctly less so for most subjects. Subjects were later given a choice of which trial to repeat. A significant majority chose to repeat the long trial, apparently preferring more pain over less. The results add to other evidence suggesting that duration plays a small role in retrospective evaluations of aversive experiences; such evaluations are often dominated by the discomfort at the worst and at the final moments of episodes.

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