The role of positive traits and pain catastrophizing in pain perception

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2013 May;17(5):330. doi: 10.1007/s11916-013-0330-2.


A variety of biological, psychological, and social factors interact to influence pain. This article focuses on two distinct, but connected, psychological factors--positive personality traits and pain catastrophizing--and their link with pain perception in healthy and clinical populations. First, we review the protective link between positive personality traits, such as optimism, hope, and self-efficacy, and pain perception. Second, we provide evidence of the well-established relationship between pain catastrophizing and pain perception and other related outcomes. Third, we outline the inverse relationship between positive traits and pain catastrophizing, and offer a model that explains the inverse link between positive traits and pain perception through lower pain catastrophizing. Finally, we discuss clinical practice recommendations based on the aforementioned relationships.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Affect*
  • Catastrophization / psychology*
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Perception*
  • Personality
  • Self Efficacy