Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

To express or suppress may be function of others' distress

Geert Crombez a1 and Chris Eccleston a2
a1 Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent 9000, Belgium
a2 Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom


We argue that pain behaviour cannot be wholly accounted for within the operant model of Fordyce (1976). Many pain behaviours, including facial expression, are not socially reinforced but are evolutionarily predetermined. We urge researchers to take into consideration other learning accounts. Building on the idea that pain sufferers learn to suppress the expression of pain, we begin the development of a framework for a relational understanding of pain complaint.