Strategic self-presentation may enhance effects of interdisciplinary chronic pain treatment

Wesley P. Gilliam, John W. Burns*, Christine Gagnon, Steven Stanos, Justin Matsuura, Nancy Beckman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Strategic self-presentation (SSP) is rooted in cognitive dissonance and self-perception theories, and holds that when a person presents him/herself as having certain attributes and publicly commits to having these attributes, then he or she may then begin to behave consistently with that presentation. SSP principles were integrated into an interdisciplinary chronic pain program to test whether selfpresentation as a "good coper" made in a public context would increase pre- to posttreatment gains on measures of pain severity, interference, activity level, depression, pain self-efficacy, and coping. Method: Eighty-nine patients with chronic pain were assigned to either claim that they are coping well with pain (SSP-positive) or that they are having problems coping with pain (SSP-negative). This condition was crossed with public or private commitments. Results: Significant 2 SSP (positive, negative) × Commitment (public, private) interactions were found for most pre- to posttreatment change scores such that the participants in the SSP-positive/Public condition reported greater improvements than other conditions on interference, depression, self-efficacy and positive coping. These effects were not accounted for by participant level of social desirability. Conclusion: Results imply that publicly committing to coping well with chronic pain enhances adjustment to pain relative to other commitment conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-163
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 7 2013


  • Chronic pain
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Interdisciplinary pain program
  • Strategic self-presentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Strategic self-presentation may enhance effects of interdisciplinary chronic pain treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this