Learned Helplessness

2 February 2017

This thought not only affect their willingness to learn but also their self-esteem. There are many situations that can explain learned helplessness. For example, if a person tries to fix a computer, after several attempts he is not able to do so. Then he may develop a thought of learned helplessness and believe that he cannot make it works. No matter how hard he tries, he is unable to fix the computer. The other example is when student attend the physic class. Then repeated experiences of failure occur to this student to get a high score.

So, he thinks that he may not be able to have a good score on physics. It will affect the following action. He will not study, not doing the homework, and so on. When there is a time for the exam, obviously he cannot do it and fail the course. After that, he will think that he cannot do physics ever again in his life. This might also affect his mood, his performance, and self-esteem. The theory learned helplessness created by Seligman and his colleagues (1975, as cited in Ciccarelli & White, 2009) after they experimented with the dogs.

Learned Helplessness Essay Example

They said that the experiment dogs exposed to unavoidable and inescapable in electric shocks in one situation later failed to learn to escape in any different situation when they actually could escape (Overmier & Seligman, 1967). The uncontrollable electric shocks also one of the factors that they cannot escape. Students in Cedarville University have tested this theory (Firmin et al, 2004). They conducted a study that examines learned helplessness and the effect on test taking. They divided the participants into two groups.

The first group was given the extremely difficult SAT questions first until the easiest. The second group was given the easy part first until the hardest. They were hypothesized that the first group would be easily depressed than the second group. The result confirmed their hypotheses. The students in the first group had a lower score than the students in the second group. They had a lower score because they tend to give up on the easy questions due to frustration because they have done the hardest part first.

The strength of this theory could be applicable for all ages (Costello, 1980). If you think back, learned helplessness is a way of thinking where the thoughts were surrender because of previous experiences in which success was impossible. A child who grown up in a chaotic world tends to has learned helplessness. Then when he gets older it still affects his mind. In my opinion, Costello’s opinion is necessary because when people have bad experiences in the childhood they automatically bring it into the life. Especially, when the experience get into phobias.

For example, if someone has rejected by his mother several times, when his get older maybe he has a lack of self-confidence to give his opinion to others especially his mother. In every theory there are always some weakness. Maier and Seligman (1975) also have arguments on their research. They said that the effects from learned helplessness study has yet to be satisfactorily explained. One session for the inescapable shock gives temporary effect in dogs, while four sessions tend to be giving more permanent effect. In addition, rats that have faced one session of inescapable shock had a permanent effect.

Previous study proactive, which is known as to decrease with additional training and to increase with time from learning, has interfered the dogs. So, why the rats have permanent effect after just one session? The dog was not trained to be in the cage, but the rats were always in the cage. The effects must be the other way around. Perhaps, the rats were immune or experienced with the controllable events. The other weakness is the theory is not controllable for people and uncontrollable for some people (Abramson, 2012). In my opinion, the theory is not really clear.

Learned helplessness maybe occurs on the dogs, rats, and human in the past research but it is not always happen to everybody. It depends on the subject it self. For example, inventors who failed to discover their object several times they still did not give up. Until they succeed to invent it. Thomas Alva Edison who invented a lamp, he failed several times but did not depress and still trying until he succeed to make it works. So, the environment and self-confidence has an impact for having guts. Maybe if the dogs have more bravery and guts it could escape the electric shock.

Also, maybe if the parents or friends encourage the student that bad in some course, he could be optimist and pass the exam. The theory foundation was formed based on testing animals. The infamous Seligman’s experiment even the most basic part of the theory was conducted on animal research. Thus, it might be difficult trying to relate the result with a real human being. A person might react differently to the situation and might not learn to be helplessness. Abramson (2012) also said that the theory does not explaining when the learned helplessness in general and when specific, or when chronic and when acute.

The learned helplessness theory can occur on the real world problem. For instance, people who have rejected several times for job will be depressed and decide not to get a job. The learned helplessness is occur when he was being rejected once, maybe he still have guts. However after several times he will get tired already and will not doing anything about it. Because he gets pessimist and he will think that no one will hire him for a job. If he look at from the other side and open his mind, he actually can do something about it. Maybe he is not having the job skills, lack of self-confidence, or cannot really work with others.

The solution is he has to know himself better first including his weakness and the strengths, then he will realize what he really want to do with his life. After that maybe he can improve the skills or build his own business company. The other example is when a men got rejected or having break ups with the women several times. Then, he decide to not having a relationships with anybody because he know how hurt it is, as same as the dogs got hurts with the electric shocks on the Seligman experiment, then the dog will not escape it ever.

On the other hand, there is always a way to everybody to solve everything. Maybe if he just let it go and forget about it then take the thoughts to focus on the career, the problems will be gone. There are chances and several benefits about it. He might success on the career he focuses on and then he might also meet someone who could make him happier than ever.

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