Expanding the Concept of Perceived Burdensomeness: The Relationship Between Burden, Ostracism, and Pain
LeRoy, Angie S.
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Perceived burdensomeness (PB) is a real or imagined perception of being a burden to others, and is related to several negative outcomes, such as pain, depression, and suicide ideation. However, very little research has addressed the possible link between PB and pain. In the current proposal, we take a multi-disciplinary approach to investigate whether and why PB leads to pain; we propose that anticipated ostracism may explain this link. 262 participants completed an online study in which they were asked to recall an experience in which they were either burdensome to others (burdensome condition) or contribute equally to others (control condition) during a group task. In general, participants in the burdensome condition experienced more perceived burdensomeness, social pain, negative affect, and depressive symptoms than participants in the control condition. We also found evidence to suggest anticipated ostracism may partially explain the relationship between PB and pain. In addition, individuals with highly interdependent self-construal were more likely to perceive themselves as burdensome to others. Anticipated ostracism may be a modifiable mechanism practitioners can target in order to reduce negative outcomes including pain. Future research should examine the intricacies of the pain experience for those who perceive themselves as burdensome to others.