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Abstract

Because of their shared neurobiological underpinnings, factors increasing physical pain can also increase feelings of social disconnection (“social pain”). Feelings of connection with a social group are reflected in the term social identification, and social identity is commonly associated with intergroup discrimination. In two experiments, we examined the notion that physical pain would reduce social identification and subsequently inhibit intergroup discrimination in helping. By using a pain memory manipulation and a support measure of helping in Study 1 (N = 173), and an actual pain manipulation combined with a behavioural measure of helping in Study 2 (N = 72), results from both studies confirmed the predictions. As expected, physical pain eliminated ingroup favouritism in helping, and identification mediated this effect in the ingroup condition but not in the outgroup condition. We discuss these findings in light of the apparently paradoxical relationship between social support and pain. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.