Presentation Title

The Effects of University Safe Space Affiliation on Student's Mental Health

Location

Guzman Lecture Hall

Start Date

4-19-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

4-19-2018 4:00 PM

Department

Psychology

Student Type

Undergraduate

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Davis, Ph.D.

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

On college campuses across the United States, students are seeking out “safe spaces” as a reprieve from perceived persecution and discrimination. University safe spaces began as a place for those in the LGBTQ community to seek refuge from harassment and judgement. Today, safe space groups have caused a great deal of vitriol in the media. Social commenters state that the idea of safe spaces is detrimental to the sharing of and exposure to new and different ideas, and is a harmful to the First Amendment right of free speech. At the root of these safe spaces is a noble and psychologically sound ideal: social identity through group affiliation has been shown to promote positive mental well-being. Studies have shown the positive correlation between satisfaction of life in those affiliated with groups. Stanley Schachter also found that people tend to seek out groups when experiencing times of anxiety. In Schachter’s experiment, he found that participants chose to stay in a room with other participants, rather than being alone while awaiting a perceived upcoming painful experience. The purpose of the study is to see if students who are affiliated with these safe space groups are indeed more satisfied, less anxious, and less depressed than students who are unaffiliated with any groups, as previous research has shown. Also of interest, is investigating if the safe space’s grouping together due to perceived negativity correlates with similar mental health scores as those of students who are affiliated with groups of common interest.

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The Effects of University Safe Space Affiliation on Student's Mental Health

Guzman Lecture Hall

On college campuses across the United States, students are seeking out “safe spaces” as a reprieve from perceived persecution and discrimination. University safe spaces began as a place for those in the LGBTQ community to seek refuge from harassment and judgement. Today, safe space groups have caused a great deal of vitriol in the media. Social commenters state that the idea of safe spaces is detrimental to the sharing of and exposure to new and different ideas, and is a harmful to the First Amendment right of free speech. At the root of these safe spaces is a noble and psychologically sound ideal: social identity through group affiliation has been shown to promote positive mental well-being. Studies have shown the positive correlation between satisfaction of life in those affiliated with groups. Stanley Schachter also found that people tend to seek out groups when experiencing times of anxiety. In Schachter’s experiment, he found that participants chose to stay in a room with other participants, rather than being alone while awaiting a perceived upcoming painful experience. The purpose of the study is to see if students who are affiliated with these safe space groups are indeed more satisfied, less anxious, and less depressed than students who are unaffiliated with any groups, as previous research has shown. Also of interest, is investigating if the safe space’s grouping together due to perceived negativity correlates with similar mental health scores as those of students who are affiliated with groups of common interest.