Trigger warnings – are they beneficial?

This week, Victoria Bridgland was interviewed by ABC’s Hack, regarding her work on Trigger warnings in the media.

Victoria is one of only a handful of researchers in the world studying the effects of trigger warnings. Victoria’s work is the first to look at the benefits – and possible downsides – of trigger warnings which occur before content that may contain traumatic material.

She told Hack that advocates for explicit trigger warnings before content of steaming services go beyond the type of warnings we have seen in the past:

“Trigger warnings take it a step further. Instead of just saying this is the type of content that might be in the show, it might suggest the reactions that people might have [to that content]. It’s not just telling you what’s in it, it’s telling you how you might feel about it,” Victoria said.

Victoria’s research has found that these types of trigger warnings might actually do more harm than good in some instances. In fact, calls to implement them for content on steaming services is not grounded in evidence:

“They can make people feel really nervous and anxious before viewing something. Then when they go on to view the material, it doesn’t seem to have any [change] in that reaction,” she explained.

Trigger warnings are an important area of research, and Victoria’s work is paving the way to a better understanding of trigger warnings, and what benefit – if any – they have for people encountering negative material.