Author: Harry Chu

Is There Any Evidence that Trigger Warnings Work?

At Stockton University’s 3rd Annual Women in Academia Conference in 2014, Kristin J. Jacobson, a professor of American Literature and Gender Studies, gave a presentation entitled “Trigger Warnings! Best Practices and the Evaluation of Teaching.”1 Jacobson described trigger warnings as “largely accepted practice among faculty from a range of fields” for accommodating traumatized students in the classroom. This is a view shared by other advocates and users of trigger warnings who have come forward to justify their use. In an article for the New York Times entitled “Why I Use Trigger Warnings,” Katie Manne also contends that “the willingness to use trigger warnings” reflects best practices in the classroom. Rebecca Godderiss and Jennifer Root from Wilfred Laurier University, meanwhile, offer that dialogue among faculty is critical to establishing best practices for trigger warnings.2 Likewise, Francesca Laguardia and her colleagues at Montclair State University suggest that, were they to be given training on the prevalence of trauma and the biology of trauma triggers, most academics would be more open to incorporating trigger warnings in their classrooms.3 However, these perspectives operate on the …