Reactions to pain among subjects high and low in dental fear

Robert K. Klepac, Marvin McDonald, Gregory Hauge, John Dowling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Differential pain tolerance might account for the diversity of reactions commonly seen in response to stressful medical and dental procedures. College students reporting themselves either highly fearful or nonfearful of dental work were compared in several aspects of their reactions to dental and nondental pain. The two groups did not differ in pain threshold or pain tolerance assessed during tooth pulp stimulation or during electrical stimulation of the forearm. High-dental fear subjects, however, retrospectively rated tooth shock (but not arm shock) more painful than low-fear subjects. High-fear subjects also showed significantly greater affective reactions assessed via the Anxiety Differential during both tolerance tests, with the group differences greater in magnitude during tooth shock than arm shock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1980


  • dental fear
  • dental pain
  • pain reactions
  • state anxiety and pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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