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I am seeking a particular paper on pain perception in undergraduate males.

In the late 1980s, my father told me about the experiment in the paper. My recollection is that he had read it long before, perhaps when he was a medical student, in the late 1950s or early 1960s. So the paper itself is very unlikely to be as late as 1975, and is likely to pre-1965. And my recollection of somebody else’s recollection of the experiment, recounted below, has had 5½ to 6 decades of imperfect memory in two different people: errors are possible.


The experiment is about the perception of pain in undergraduates. There are buckets of iced water, at various temperatures. One at a time, undergraduates, all male (it was a while ago), plunge a hand into a bucket. The professor asks how painful it is, on a given scale, and he records the answer in his notebook.

In the other part of the experiment, there are buckets of iced water, at various temperatures. One at a time, undergraduates, all male (ditto), plunge a hand into a bucket. The professor’s very attractive assistant asks how painful it is, on a given scale, and she records the answer in her notebook.

As you might expect, the variable that best explained recorded pain levels was not the temperature of the water.


I am seeking the original paper. Google has not been my friend, which might or might not be my fault. Please, are there readers expert in this field who could point me to the paper?

  • I recall that experiment from a psych class long ago so your memory isn't too far off. I think it was probably conducted early- to mid-1960s. – Carey Gregory May 23 '18 at 21:42
  • Sure about the time frame? Levine/De Simone 1991 comes to mind. And the setup sounds somehow like not so pre-'65… – LаngLаngС May 23 '18 at 22:26
  • @LangLangC Perhaps it's been repeated by someone else more recently, but I was in college long before 1991. – Carey Gregory May 24 '18 at 0:24
  • Absolutely sure that the version I recounting is long long before 1991. The Levine/De Simone study could be the clue I want, but I don’t have access to that link. Please could I impose on you to look at its references? (If necessary use jdawiseman.com/author.html) – jdaw1 May 24 '18 at 19:05
  • Carey’s comment has another consequence. Perhaps my father was taught it in class, rather than reading the original paper. In which case the experiment could be even older. – jdaw1 May 27 '18 at 12:57

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