According to a study, income rank is associated to bodily pain experience, regardless of whether one lives in a rich or poor country.

A new analysis of global polling data suggests that a person’s likelihood of experiencing physical pain is correlated with their income rank in relation to their peers, with a lower income rank indicating a greater likelihood of experiencing pain. This is the first instance of such a relationship being demonstrated.

Whether a person lives in a wealthy or poor nation, the study found that the connection holds true to the same extent.

The position of an individual’s absolute personal income in a list of those amounts arranged from lowest to highest is known as income rank. The higher the situation in the rundown, the higher the pay rank.

The study, which was written by Dr. Luca Macchia, a lecturer in psychology at the City University of London, also suggests that people in poor countries are just as likely as people in rich countries to experience pain, regardless of how much personal income they earn. This was a surprising finding that needs more research because the prediction was that people in poorer countries would be more affected because they would be able to access more resources for their well-being that are more readily available in rich countries.

“This is the first study to show that income rank and pain are linked globally. It implies that psychological elements associated to the well-known phenomenon of social comparison may have an impact on people’s physical discomfort.”

Dr. Lucía Macchia,

Overall, the findings of the study suggest that negative emotions related to how they evaluate their income ranking in comparison to their peers may be the most important factor affecting a person’s pain levels based on their personal income. Whether this is connected to their perception of their own levels of deprivation in comparison to those of their peers (according to the relative deprivation theory) or to their social standing and a sense of a lack of social mobility (the social comparison theory),

The study used data from the World Gallup Poll (GWP) every year from 2009 to 2018 to analyze responses from approximately 1.3 million adult survey respondents from 146 nations. The amount of the respondent’s personal income was calculated by dividing their total monthly household income before taxes by the number of people living in their household. Additionally, respondents were permitted to respond “yes” or “no” when asked if they had experienced physical pain the day prior to the survey. In the analyses, these data and additional ancillary data were used to create linear regression models.

According to the findings of this study, pain is the sensation that people get when their bodies hurt, regardless of whether or not there is any physical damage.

In the UK, one of the most common reasons for going to the emergency room is physical pain. In the UK, approximately nine million people suffer from chronic pain, and musculoskeletal pain alone accounts for 30% of all medical visits.

Over the past few decades, physical pain has become a major concern for global public health. Pain has an impact on leisure and work productivity, drives up the cost of health care, and poses a significant obstacle for healthcare systems. Suicide and the abuse of drugs and alcohol both have a lot to do with pain. In light of these circumstances, it is essential to address pain’s consequences by comprehending its context.

“This is the first study that shows that income rank and pain are linked around the world,” said the study’s author, Dr. Luca Macchia. It suggests that people’s physical pain may be influenced by psychological factors connected to the well-known phenomenon of social comparison.”

Social Psychological and Personality Science is the online journal that has published the study.

More information: Having less than others is physically painful: Income rank and pain around the world, Social Psychological and Personality Science (2023). DOI: 10.1177/19485506231167928

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