Gender stereotypes can come in any form, and it can be harmful for all the people involved. And, as it turns out, even expressing pain can be interpreted differently if it’s a male or a female that is expressing it.
Yale University conducted a study recently that found something very depressing. According to the study, adults believed the children to be in less pain when they thought they were female when viewing identical reactions to a finger-stick.
A Children’s Health Care study conducted in 2014 found that people perceiving pain in kids was higher when they thought that the child was male, and Yale’s study was conducted to further confirm, clarify, and extend Children’s Health Care study. Yale broadened the research to include adults aging from 18 to 75, and it was split equally between male and female participants.
The study was published in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology, and it showed 264 adults watching an identical vide of a 5-year-old child receiving a finger prick at a doctor visit. Even when the child in the video exhibited identical “pain-display behaviors”, the group who watched the video said that the male child named “Samuel” experienced more pain that the people who watched the video knowing that the child as “Samantha”.
The study’s authors concluded that explicit gender stereotypes like the ones found in the study may bias adult assessment of children’s pain.
What’s interesting is that it was women participants who believed the boys’ pain to be more severe, and they thought that “for a boy to express that much pain, he must really be in pain”.
Many people, naturally, found the findings to be shocking:
The researchers say that the inconsistency is a result of cultural myths like “boys are more stoic” or “girls are more emotive”, and the bottom line here is that women need to be believed when they express pain because it can sometimes make a huge difference!