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Study: College Roommates Don’t Fully Understand Each Other’s Distress

NYU researchers found that student roommates could be trained to be more sensitive to each other.



New York University psychology researchers released the results of research that found while college roommates are sensitive to the each other’s distress, they don’t fully comprehend the depth of that discomfort. The results were first published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

According to Science Daily:

“College students can detect certain levels of distress in their roommates and spot changes over the course of a semester, but they nonetheless underestimate the absolute level of distress,” adds Patrick Shrout, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and the study’s senior author.

The researchers note that the study’s subjects had not been trained to spot distress, unlike other peers, such as dormitory residential assistants.

The study consisted of 187 same-sex undergraduate roommates who included Asian, Black, Hispanic, White, and biracial students. Twice during the school, the roommates reported their distress levels and how distressed they felt their roommates were.

Overall, most in the study tended to think that their roommates distress level was very similar to their own.

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