Secrets of the Male Mind #4
Men are Pretty Tough When It Comes to Pain
Ever wondered why guys wrestle? Or why they’ll offer their torso to another fellow and say, “Come on, punch me!” To be honest, we don’t know why they do that. But we do know some interesting things about how men perceive pain.
Women, despite enduring childbirth, tend to complain more often of pain throughout their lifetime. In tests comparing how long the genders can withstand pain, men always endure longer. Many scientists believe the men feel compelled to maintain a stiff upper lip to fulfill cultural stereotypes that peg men as real tough, macho guys. In one study, scientists offered participants financial rewards for keeping their hands in ice-cold water, thinking that women didn’t feel motivated to withstand pain since they had no social stereotypes to uphold. As it turns out, the money didn’t make the women any more tolerant of pain, but it made the men able to withstand the cold water for even longer, indicating that there really is something different about the way men perceive pain [Source: Dye].
Thanks to brain imaging, scientists now know that when men feel pain, their cognitive, analytical centers light up. When women feel pain, their limbic system, also known as the headquarters of emotion, lights up [Source: UCLA]. As with many items on this list, there’s likely an evolutionary reason for this — women who feel pain may be going into nurturing, protective overdrive on behalf of their young, whereas men, the ancient defenders of the homestead, aren’t upset about the pain, they just want to stop it. Some doctors wonder if training women to approach pain the way men do — focusing on the feeling of pain as opposed to the emotions like anxiety or fear that the pain creates — could help women in distress. At the very least, doctors now realize that they may need to treat a man’s pain and a woman’s pain differently.
The thing is, even if men do feel pain, you’re not likely to know it. Find out more about men and emotion on the next post.
Article courtesy of Discovery