The present study was designed to examine the premorbid 'action-proneness' of chronic pain patients without obvious organic etiology. Using a validated psychometric instrument (the HAB questionnaire), 3 clinical groups were compared: 30 patients with chronic 'non-organic' pain, 30 patients with chronic organic pathology and 30 hospitalized psychiatric patients without pain as a primary complaint. The results indicate that the chronic pain patients describe themselves retrospectively as more 'action-prone' than the patients of the two control groups. Using an analysis of covariance to have statistical control on age, occupational level and depression, the results were statistically significant on the 0.05 level. Although this study suggests that a strong tendency towards direct action may be a frequent and relatively specific premorbid feature of chronic pain patients, the pathogenic implications of these findings remain uncertain.