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College students more psychologically resilient, ready to talk trauma


Sex and trauma: researchers want to know more, but in the course of investigating, victims are often re-victimized and an interview can be compromised.

Institutional review boards take the stand that research on human subjects asking people about sex and trauma is risk and more distressing than a standard test or personality questionnaires. Studies that could help us understand rape, incest, child sexual abuse and sexual dysfunctions are often difficult to get approved.

But new research into the research shows that, at least for college aged participants in these studies, the trauma of an interview may not be as detrimental as feared.

Researcher Geoffrey Miller from the University of New Mexico explains:

“IRBs (Institutional Review Boards) have been well-intentioned, but our research suggests they have often been over-protective. I hope our study helps make it easier to do the sex ad trauma research that could reduce the real harm done by rape, child abuse, and other sexual problems.”

For this study, researchers took a group of 504 college students and asked them standard as well as exceedingly personal questions about extremely sensitive topics from rape to masturbation, infidelity to sexual fantasy. Level of discomfort was measured before and after testing. Participants admitted to more negative feelings after the personal questioning, but it was only slightly more so than the more standard survey yielded.

“These findings highlight to me the need for us to continually test our assumptions and theories about human behavior. Without such empirical evaluation, we prevent ourselves from making scientific progress in areas that are likely to have an impact on understanding, treating, and preventing human suffering,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Yeater.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psychological Science

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