Methods: Data was collected using a cross-sectional survey design administered to Masters and Bachelors level social work students (N=87) at a large southeastern university. The 23-item survey gathered sociodemographic information, and included The Willingness to Self-Censor Scale adapted from Hayes, Glynn, and Shanahan (2005). A multiple regression was conducted to determine the influence of these variables on self-censorship.
Results: Survey results revealed that participants who indicated a higher level of interest in politics, students who had previous experience with paid social work, and students who identified racially and ethnically as Black and non-Hispanic, had a significant negative association with levels of self-censorship (β = -.26, p < .05; β = -.31, p < .01; β = -.48, p < .001). That is, these students had lower levels of self-censorship (will censor themselves less) during sociopolitical discussions in the classroom.
Conclusion and Implications: These exploratory findings offer insight for social work researchers into factors to consider regarding the phenomenon of self-censorship. For social work educators, these findings suggest possible sociodemographic factors to be considered when developing pedagogy aimed at engaging social work students in difficult, but necessary discussions relevant to competent and effective social work practice. Future research could include gathering a larger sample and conducting factor analysis to identify potential underlying constructs driving self-censorship behavior. Research that illuminates a clearer understanding of the factors associated with social work students’ willingness to engage in difficult sociopolitical issues is paramount to developing capable, effective, and engaged social work practitioners.