Study: ‘Trigger Warnings’ Do Not Work
Trigger warnings that alert people to potentially ‘sensitive’ content are increasingly popular, especially on college campuses, but research suggests that they have minimal impact on how people actually respond to content.
The findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science.
First Author on the research Mevagh Sanson of The University of Waikato said: “We, like many others, were hearing new stories week upon week about trigger warnings being asked for or introduced at universities around the world.
“Our findings suggest that these warnings, though well intended, are not helpful.”
To resolve the question, the researchers conducted a series of six experiments with a total of 1,394 participants.
The results across all six experiments were consistent: Trigger warnings had little effect on participants’ distress.
Trigger warnings have been increasingly pushed in an effort to protect individuals from traumatic content, yet detractors have pointed to evidence stating that individuals benefit more from facing and processing traumatic experience, rather than defending against it.
Read more: 3 Steps to Process PTSD