In pain thou shalt bring forth children: the peak-and-end rule in recall of labor pain.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Childbirth is usually the most painful event of a mother's life, and resonates in individual and collective memory for years. The current study examined the relationship between the experience of labor pain and its recollection 2 days and 2 months after delivery. We found that despite the exceptional physical and emotional experiences of childbirth, the memory of the pain involved in labor was biased toward the average of the peak pain and the end pain, whereas the duration of the delivery had a relatively negligible effect on the recollected intensity of pain. A comparison of mothers whose labor ended with or without epidural analgesia corroborated previous findings that the level of pain toward the end of an experience greatly influences the way the overall experience is remembered. Although both short- and long-term retention of memories of labor exhibited the peak-and-end effect, having given birth before weakened the effect 2 months after delivery.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chajut, E; Caspi, A; Chen, R; Hod, M; Ariely, D

Published Date

  • December 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 2266 - 2271

PubMed ID

  • 25298293

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797614551004


  • eng