Interpersonal dynamics of pain and chronic illness

The observation of another experiencing bodily symptoms triggers a cascade of psychological processes (empathy, distress, attention, hypervigilance for threat signals in others) and behavioural sequelae (prosocial/helping behaviour).

Research lines focus upon 1) bottom-up and top-down factors influencing observers' attention to, perception of, and interpretation of another's pain, and how this, in turn, relates to observers' sensory, affective and behavioral responses and goal regulation; 2) contextual factors influencing an individual's pain expression and experience and; 3) the role of observers' mindfulness and acceptance of other's pain/illness in helping behaviour, and its impact upon patient outcomes (e.g., disability, treatment adherence).

These processes are investigated among parent-child dyads, couples, health care provider- patient dyads, and lay people. Research is informed by integrative models of empathy and motivation. These interpersonal dynamics are investigated by means of experimental paradigms that allow rigorous control, diary methods, cross-sectional and prospective questionnaire methodology, and observational methods.