- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Harvard University psychologists have added to a growing body of evidence that suggests trigger warnings may do more harm than good.

Psychologists Benjamin Bellet, Payton Jones, and Richard McNally published a study in 2018 the found increased anxiety to written material perceived as harmful among participants.

The trio’s latest work produced an even starker revelation: “substantial evidence that trigger warnings countertherapeutically reinforce survivors’ view of their trauma as central to their identity.”

The findings, reported by the educational watchdog Campus Reform on Tuesday, were the result of studying 451 trauma survivors who were randomly assigned to either receive or not receive trigger warnings prior to reading potentially distressing passages from world literature.

Participants provided their emotional reactions to each passage.



The study concluded: “Trigger warnings are not helpful for trauma survivors. It is less clear whether trigger warnings are explicitly harmful. However, such knowledge is unnecessary to adjudicate whether to use trigger warnings — because trigger warnings are consistently unhelpful, there is no evidence-based reason to use them.”

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