People in pain make poorer decisions

Nina Attridge, Jayne Pickering, Matthew Inglis, Edmund Keogh, Christopher Eccleston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)
88 Downloads (Pure)


Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 people and has been shown to disrupt attention. Here, we investigated whether pain disrupts everyday decision making. In study 1, 1322 participants completed 2 tasks online: a shopping-decisions task and a measure of decision outcomes over the previous 10 years. Participants who were in pain during the study made more errors on the shopping task than those who were pain-free. Participants with a recurrent pain condition reported more negative outcomes from their past decisions than those without recurrent pain. In study 2, 44 healthy participants completed the shopping-decisions task with and without experimentally induced pain. Participants made more errors while in pain than while pain-free. We suggest that the disruptive effect of pain on attending translates into poorer decisions in more complex and ecologically valid contexts, that the effect is causal, and that the consequences are not only attentional but also financial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1662-1669
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Early online date1 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Cognitive disruption
  • Decision making
  • Finances
  • Numeracy
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'People in pain make poorer decisions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this