We are so much grateful to science which has exposed the never-imagined hidden truths. One of such truths is the one research recently discovered— girls experience less pain than boys. How and what do they mean by this statement? It’s an established fact or saying that women have been overlooked so much so that they aren’t given the attention they need; yes the proper attention they need, forgetting that they too are beings created.
Five years ago— in 2014, this same issue was raised and mental health experts looked into it. Expanding on this, recent research has shown that boys are more perceived to experience pain than girls even if, according to the study, these two genders have similar pain. Well, you may not find this fact surprising especially if you are a boy since you uphold it too. But adult women believe or perceive that boys feel pain than girls. Isn’t that shocking?
This study was conducted by a group of psychologists at Yale and Georgian Universities and published in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology. During this study, 264 adults— including men and women ages 18-75— were shown a video of a 5-year-old whose gender wad indistinct, undergoing a finger-prick test, a procedure in which the finger of a person is pierced with a lancet to obtain a small amount of capillary blood in order to run a test.
After watching the video, one of the groups of the adults was told that the child’s name was Samuel and the other group was told that the child’s name was Samantha. They were then asked to rate the pain of the gender (if he were a boy) and rate its pain (if she were a girl). It was clear from the explanation that these groups of adults both watched the same video, but surprisingly they gave different answers. They were all asked to rate how much pain “Samuel” or “Samantha” in the video experienced from 0 (no pain) to 100 (severe pain).
Most adults rated Samuel 50.42, and Samantha 45.90.
The results of the study have hugely contributed to the experience-based growing understanding of sex differences in pain— that boys are more stoic than girls— a topic which needs to be appropriately addressed.
The authors came to a unanimous conclusion, saying: “Explicit gender stereotypes — for example, that boys are more stoic or girls are more emotive — may prejudice adult assessment of children’s pain.”
Furthermore, it was very surprising when the men rated boys’ pain to be similar to girls’ but the women in the audience rated boys’ pain to be higher than girls’. According to the lead author, Brian Earp, it was as though the women thought “For a boy to express that much pain, he must really be in pain.” But looking at the issue from a gender perception, the females in the audience were in the best position to rate girls’ pain higher than boys’— or equally— the opposite was the case.
This study was inspired by a similar study in 2014 in Children’s Health Care, which was led by Lindsey Cohen of Georgia State University— a co-author of the 2018 study. The 2014 study focused on using a group of nursing and psychology students who were still in the university. These students watched a similar video and were told to rate the pain. They rated Samuel’s pain to be more severe than Samantha’s pain as soon as his finger was pricked. This has given rise to the biases in pain in gender assessment, generally.
However, the second author of the 2018 study, Joshua Monrad, has come out to speak in behalf of his team, that their findings will definitely lead to further investigation of how biases in pain assessment and health care provision are countered more effectively. He said: “Any biases in judgments about pain would be hugely important because they can exacerbate inequitable health care provision.”
Meanwhile, it has been proven by several studies that young children don’t experience pains differently, if gender plays a role, as seen in adults. The reason is that at that time, they are still very young and as such haven’t developed sex hormones which account for the difference.