Are trigger warnings a necessary form of communication for an audience.
As a small possible research question for my proposal I mainly would like to find out if trigger warnings for media content are useful and from there can decide if they are necessary. From my current basic understanding I cant say how effective they are as personally I tend to ignore them or pay very little attention however, I can see the potential benefits and how they could be necessary and effective. In the long run I don’t see why they cant be on media content by default anyway, I may ignore them however, I don’t dislike them for being there.
with the amount of media content being produced on a daily basis it can be hard to focus on the content you wish to see or filtering new content you would like to try and see. This combined with the vast variety of different content each individual enjoys it can be hard to sort out the content that you personally enjoy and content that might trigger you. Warnings have been apart of human culture for centuries from the simple electric fence sign to your mother warning you not to sit to close to the TV or your eyes will turn square. As time has gone on, content online has evolved and started to tackle more and more sensitive topics. Recent examples I can think of include the highly controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons why, which tackled themes of bullying and suicide.
In recent years issues that come from mental health have been an ever growing issue among people especially with access to different online content. The need for warnings has never been higher, not just for people who do get triggered by certain content but for the public relations a company or person who produces content has with their audience. The previously mentioned 13 reasons why got caught up with some trouble when they not only failed to provide a warning at the beginning of episodes but also showing certain content that that had been previously stated by a number of mental health institutions should not been shown as it could glorify and encourage some to copy. This disregard for a simple trigger warning for such serious content caused many viewers to negatively rate the show, with some mental health organisations criticizing the producers resulting in warnings being added.
In a report titled Trigger warning: Empirical evidence ahead, Benjamin W.Bellet, Payton J.Jones, Richard J.McNally conducted some research into the effectiveness of trigger warnings before particularly distressing written and audio visual pieces of content. The results of their findings found that people who identified as those who would triggered found themselves to have a greater anxiety while reading or watching the media content. From this report we can see that trigger warnings may actually have the opposite effect than intended. In another report titled Helping or Harming? The Effect of Trigger Warnings on Individuals With Trauma Histories. Researchers also found that trigger warnings often didn’t function as intended and often caused more harm when shown to people with traumatic histories. Finally, in a 2019 paper titled Trigger Warnings Are Trivially Helpful at Reducing Negative Affect, Intrusive Thoughts, and Avoidance found that trigger warnings held no meaningful effects leaving participants with neither help nor overly negative effects from the ensuing content.
Looking through some reports has been a little bit of an eye opener for me as I previously thought that trigger warnings often helped people suffering from traumatic experiences. This is something I would like to do further research on for my research proposal.
SAGE Journals. 2020. Helping or Harming? The Effect of Trigger Warnings on Individuals With Trauma Histories – Payton J. Jones, Benjamin W. Bellet, Richard J. McNally, 2020. Available at: <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2167702620921341> [Accessed 24 March 2021].
Sanson, M., Strange, D. and Garry, M., 2019. Trigger Warnings Are Trivially Helpful at Reducing Negative Affect, Intrusive Thoughts, and Avoidance – Mevagh Sanson, Deryn Strange, Maryanne Garry, 2019. SAGE Journals. Available at: <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2167702619827018> [Accessed 24 March 2021].
W.Bellet, B., J.Jones, P. and J.McNally, R., 2021. Trigger warning: Empirical evidence ahead+. Science Direct. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005791618301137> [Accessed 24 March 2021].