At the end of the fall semester, the Office of Academic Resources (OAR) added a new offering, Accountability Buddies. This program is a variation of the body doubling strategy that first emerged as a way to cope with ADHD.
Body doubling gets its name from the practice of literally doubling the number of ‘bodies’ in a space to accomplish a task. However, unlike in tutoring or a study group, the ‘bodies’, or people, are not working together, or even on the same thing. Instead, the participants will quietly work towards their own goals, with others’ presence holding them accountable and keeping their minds from wandering off.
The idea behind the program is that people who may be easily distracted if alone will remember to focus on their work if others are present, even if those others aren’t intentionally reminding them to do so. This is supposedly especially–although not exclusively–applicable to people with ADHD. According to Medical News Today, no research currently exists on the effectiveness of body doubling. ADHD self-help groups developed the strategy after members found themselves more motivated to complete tasks in the presence of another.
There are several theories as to why body doubling works. Linda Anderson, an ADHD coach for the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, writes that working in a space with others might be “a physical anchor for the distracted individual who feels more focused by the presence of another person in their space.” She explains, ”the distracted person feels responsible to and for the body double.” Alternatively, she suggests that, particularly for people with ADHD, having a person less prone to distraction helps the person with ADHD model their behavior and stay on task.
In an academic setting, body doubling would take the form of placing a small group of people in the same room, where they could quietly work on homework, study, or do other academic work, without talking to each other. Ideally, none of these people would be friends with each other, because of the possibility of disruption.
Body doubling was introduced into the OAR by Disability Advocacy for Students at Haverford (DASH) members in early November. Students came up with the idea but reached out to the OAR in order to reserve rooms for the program and publicize it.
Time slots for the program are available in three-hour intervals from 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM. The Stokes K, Stokes J (both of which are in the OAR), or Lutnick 129. The OAR rooms are available for the Accountability Buddies program seven days a week. Lutnick 129 will be reserved for the program from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Mondays and Thursdays. Although the link has not yet been posted on the main document for the program, there is also a Zoom option.
As we move into the spring semester, new tools like the Accountability Buddies program are important to a good start.