Campus Free Speech

New Study: Trigger Warnings Are Effectively Useless

The coping devices had trivial effects "even for people with a history of trauma."

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Trigger warnings—notes of caution that inform students they are about to consume potentially traumatic course material—have "trivial effects" on mental health, according to a new study that casts significant doubt on whether the controversial classroom tool should be used.

The study, which recently appeared in Clinical Psychological Science, pushes back against the findings of Harvard University researchers, who suggested that trigger warnings might actually be a net negative—they could make some people less resilient to trauma. Trigger warnings don't really leave anyone worse off, according to the newer research conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Waikoto and the City University of New York. But they don't help matters, either: Study participants who received a trigger warning were just as bothered by traumatic words and images as participants who saw the words and images without any forewarning.

"These results suggest a trigger warning is neither meaningfully helpful nor harmful," wrote the authors.

The study involved six experiments and exposure to both disturbing written material and video clips. Researchers also asked participants about their previous experience with traumatic episodes, but determined that trigger warnings were effectively useless, "even for people with a history of trauma."

The study's editor was Scott Lilienfeld, a clinical psychologist at Emory University whose past work on microaggression theory—which he found lacking in scientific rigor—was terrific.

Trigger warnings may still be of use to students who want forewarning of potential traumatic material so that they can skip class altogether. But the authors caution that "college students are increasingly anxious, and widespread adoption of trigger warnings in syllabi may promote this trend, tacitly encouraging students to turn to avoidance, thereby depriving them of opportunities to learn healthier ways to manage potential distress."

At the very least, it would seem that mandatory trigger warnings—a common demand of student activists—are not worth the effort.

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  1. Trigger warnings are another nothing used by the left to force the nation at large to pretend that snowflakes are real people.
    I have yet to hear of a trigger warning for socialist ideas, or abortions, or sexual content that advocates for practices of the minute minority.
    In fact, trigger warnings are applied to normal sexual practices.
    Bizzaro world come to the USA

    1. I disagree. They’re great for causing liberal gamma cuck pussybitches to flail.

      1. The problem with trigger warnings is that they are simply not effective enough. What’s really needed ? and this is something that many of my colleagues here at NYU have begun to openly recognize, having acknowledged it in private for several years ? is strong action that eradicates any objectionable material, not only from college libraries everywhere in the country, but from the Internet as well. In this regard, the strongest efforts should be undertaken to prevent students from viewing the documentation of America’s leading criminal “parody” case, at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. It’s not nothing. In fact, trigger warnings are quite reasonable in certain situations.
      “I’m about to play a video of a terrorist chopping off someone’s head. If you get queasy, please look away so we don’t have to get out the mop”.

      That’s been going on since we were children. According to the research, this sort of trigger warning (allowing avoidance) still works.

      The problem is that it’s been diluted down so much that people use it to avoid hearing political views other than their own. That just doesn’t help anyone.

  2. Trigger warnings are another nothing used by the left to force the nation at large to pretend that snowflakes are real people.
    I have yet to hear of a trigger warning for socialist ideas, or abortions, or sexual content that advocates for practices of the minute minority.
    In fact, trigger warnings are applied to normal sexual practices.
    Bizzaro world come to the USA

    1. New squirrel trick; I only hit submit once.
      Usually, the post disappears, and we get tricked into resubmitting.

      And there was NO trigger warning it would double post!!!

      1. But the squirrels are right; it bears repeating.

        1. Duck! Flying puns.

          1. People are only going to Swallow so much of this!

      2. Deer Longtobefree, great comment.

  3. “At the very least, it would seem that mandatory trigger warnings?a common demand of student activists?are not worth the effort.”

    But what about lessons to be learned from caving in, or not, to whiny student demands?

    1. That takes a pair, even a small one; and college administrators are not known for their gonads.

      1. Not even at Ball State?

  4. So what about the pre-meta trigger warning for those who get stressed about the very idea that someone may soon be upset?

    1. It triggers me that snowflakes get triggered by stupid things.

      (Solved it)

  5. I hope these findings don’t diminish anyone’s enjoyment in making light of the concept of trigger warnings. We’ve effectively lowered the bar on what is considered trauma and the normal adult response to it, done so for no apparent gain, and I don’t know there’s any going back.

    1. We’ve effectively lowered the bar on what is considered trauma and the normal adult response to it,

      Don’t blame me, I’ve been giving out hurtz donuts, charlie horses, indian burns, and purple nurples at the same rate for years. If anything, my recent “You’ve got a microaggression on your shirt.” initiative has raised my numbers.

  6. Clinical Psychological Science? Frankly, I have little respect for psychology to start with, far less as a science, and I wouldn’t pay any more attention to this study than to one praising trigger warnings. Just because I think trigger warnings are nonsense doesn’t mean I am going to laud a study supporting my belief, when it comes from a source I know nothing of other than purporting to be scientific in a field which isn’t.

    1. You go, science dude.

  7. Robby, you should have included a trigger warning for this article.

    1. Boooooooooooo

      1. Ghosts have been triggered!

  8. Trigger Warning.

    Jimmy Kimmel – The Man Show – objectifies woman with rude and vulgar motions. This is a very sexist video.

    Trigger Warning.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxGUGD_Zxss

  9. So so-called adults have to be warned about possibly “traumatic” material so they can prepare themselves or skip class to avoid it, and yet Democrats say we should let 16 yr olds vote? College has become nothing more than extended adolescence. Please tell me where these kids think they will be working and living where they will never be confronted by a person or subject they find offensive? Do they think it is the responsibility of their employer or the government to protect them from anything that may upset them? If this is their expectation, they are in for a very rude awakening. When we stop treating adults like children, they will stop acting like children.

    1. Hey, no fair, you are using logic and and common sense. We can’t have that when it comes to triggering Snowflakes, They deserve advanced warnings so they can try and make the professor either change the lecture of the day or force him/her off the campus entirely.

  10. Anyone with more than 2 brain cells knew trigger warnings were bullshit. All they do is identify the snowflakes in the room.

  11. Now they’ll just shift to ‘its *polite*’ and ‘it shows you care about someone’s feelings.’

    When in reality it was solely about power over others.

    1. Political Correctness is fascism pretending to be Manners. – George Carlin

  12. If you denounce trigger warnings, next think you know you will be picking on service animals, some of which are allegedly able to detect when their masters are about to experience onsets of all types of maladies. I even knew a complete sociopath once who had a terrifying pit bull with a spikey collar he would bring to court. The dog was a registered service animal by the man’s therapist, supposedly would give warning when a psychotic break approached.

    The dog failed. The guy did a home burglary, found a woman asleep there, raped and murdered her. I put it down to product failure by whoever trained the service dog that some welfare agency paid for.

    1. I put it down to product failure by whoever trained the service dog that some welfare agency paid for.

      No. It’s entirely possible the dog did exactly what it was trained to do (phone the police?). The failure was on the part of the registered therapist who confused the dog and their own talents with the fiction that was The Shadow.

  13. So trigger warnings either have no effect or a negative effect on the Progressives who receive them.

    I say, More Trigger Warnings!!

  14. Trigger please.

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  16. Aren’t the warnings themselves effectively triggers?

  17. You spelled Waikato wrong

  18. “These results suggest a trigger warning is neither meaningfully helpful nor harmful,” wrote the authors.

    Say it with me:
    Failure to reject the null hypothesis does not establish the null hypothesis.
    Failure to reject the null hypothesis does not establish the null hypothesis.
    Failure to reject the null hypothesis does not establish the null hypothesis.

  19. So who exactly is supposed to examine potentially offending materials and issue trigger warnings? Won’t that person be offended and triggered, rather constantly?

  20. Trigger Warnings are just flashing neon lights for people who enjoy being offended.

    1. Flashing neon lights offend me.

  21. Trigger warnings are actually useful in one way not reflected by the study: they indicate that the person issuing the trigger warning has nothing useful to say and should be ignored entirely.

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