Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Daniel W. McNeil.

Committee Co-Chair

Karl G. Jursey

Committee Member

Kevin T. Larkin

Committee Member

B. Kent Parker


Although pain responding and emotional states such as fear are highly correlated and appear to interact, the causal relations between these variables have yet to be fully defined. This study sought to further illuminate these relations by investigating how exposure to one of these states (i.e., pain or fear) affects responding to the other. The order in which participants experienced fearful or painful stimuli was manipulated, as well as fear level (i.e., "low" & "high"). Measures of behavioral escape, heart rate, and verbal reports were obtained throughout four experimental trials, as well as rankings of aversiveness for all stimuli encountered. Results indicated a high degree of synchrony among rankings of aversiveness and the three response modalities, with the exception of verbal reports of pain. Specifically, high fear, which was found to be the most aversive and appeared to inhibit verbal reports of pain and elevate all other measures of distress, especially when high fear was encountered first. These findings indicate that the stimulus perceived to be the most aversive (i.e., high fear) accounted for the greatest variability in responding. This pattern was replicated for the two stimuli found to be less aversive (i.e., pain and low fear, respectively). In sum, fear and pain, in and of themselves, do not dictate the nature of their relation; the important factor is how aversive they are perceived to be in relation to one another.