Friday, September 30, 2022

Trigger warnings and ‘safety-ism’ don’t work.

Mark Manson does an engaging "Mindf*ck Monday Newsletter from Sept. 7" that I recommend you have a look at. It cites a meta-analysis by Brigland et al. that shows that trigger warning don't work, in some cases they may make things worse. Their abstract:
Trigger warnings, content warnings, or content notes are alerts about upcoming content that may contain themes related to past negative experiences. Advocates claim that warnings help people to emotionally prepare for or completely avoid distressing material. Critics argue that warnings both contribute to a culture of avoidance at odds with evidence-based treatment practices and instill fear about upcoming content. Recently, a body of psychological research has begun to investigate these claims empirically. We present the results of a meta-analysis of all empirical studies on the effects of these warnings. Overall, we found that warnings have no effect on affective responses to negative material nor on educational outcomes (i.e., comprehension). However, warnings reliably increase anticipatory affect. Findings on avoidance were mixed, suggesting either that warnings have no effect on engagement with material, or that they increase engagement with negative material under specific circumstances. Limitations and implications for policy and therapeutic practice are discussed.
Manson also discusses the dying fad of "safety-ism" noted by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their book "The Coddling of the American Mind," and makes the point that...
The human mind is antifragile—that is, it gains from discomfort and strain. That means to grow stronger, the human mind needs to regularly be confronted with difficult and upsetting experiences to develop stability and serenity for itself.

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