Development and validation of a new instrument to measure social pain

  • Social pain is an emotional reaction to social exclusion which has been widely investigated in experimental settings. We developed the Social Pain Questionnaire (SPQ) and examined its factor structure, reliability, and construct validity. We constructed a 46-item pool that covered a broad range of situations related to social pain. Using three different subsamples (Online convenience sample: n = 623, Representative sample: n = 2531, Clinical sample of outpatients seeking psychotherapy: n = 270) we reduced the item pool to 10 items for the final SPQ scale, paying particular attention to content validity and factorial structure. Convergent, divergent and discriminant validity were assessed using standardized measures of related constructs and group differences. For the final 10-item version, a good factorial structure and reliability were found. Convergent validity was supported by correlations with related instruments of interpersonal sensitivity, attachment styles, depression and social anxiety. The representative and clinical sample differed significantly in social pain. The SPQ is an economic self-report measure with solid psychometric properties. Our data support the factorial, construct and convergent validity. The SPQ can be used to clarify the role of social pain in mental disorders and to incorporate interventions targeted towards social pain in psychotherapeutic settings.
Author:Ulrich StangierORCiDGND, Johanna SchüllerORCiD, Elmar BrählerORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Scientific reports
Publisher:Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
Place of publication:[London]
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/04/15
Date of first Publication:2021/04/15
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/01/31
Tag:Psychology; Social behaviour
Issue:art. 8283
Article Number:8283
Page Number:9
First Page:1
Last Page:9
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the OSF repository (
The full code of the genetic algorithm application is available in the OSF repository (
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0