Learned helplessness - Essay Example

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The idea of learned helplessness came to existence in 1965 when Martin Seligman and his associate were carrying out an investigation on classical conditioning. They used dogs for the experiment. They rang a bell and then gave a shock to a dog. After repeating this for several times, the dogs responded to the alarm even before it occurred. …
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Learned helplessness
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Learned Helplessness Learned helplessness The idea of learned helplessness came to existence in 1965 when Martin Seligman and his associate were carrying out an investigation on classical conditioning. They used dogs for the experiment. They rang a bell and then gave a shock to a dog. After repeating this for several times, the dogs responded to the alarm even before it occurred. Seligman did further research by putting every dog into a large box separated with a low fence in the centre. He made sure that the floor on one side was electrified and the other was not. He applied light shock to the dog expecting it to jump to the other side but it did not. This was because the dog had learnt through prior experience that there was nothing they could do to evade shock. This condition was named learned helplessness. It leads to less enthusiasm, failure to study and being pessimistic (Wilson and Burger, 2011).
After the experiments on learned helplessness, the ideology has been applicable in diverse dimensions of human behavior. They include depression, behavior of the elderly in nursing homes, family violence and insulting relationships, and lastly in drug and substance abuse. An illustration of an individual with learned helplessness condition is a young man who is a chain smoker. He feels that it’s not possible to quit smoking once one gets addicted. His assumption stems from the experience of others in quitting.
Through belief change, a person suffering from learned helplessness condition can solve the problem and emerge competent. If this man who is a cigar addict believes it possible to quit smoking then gets to rehabilitation, he can overcome smoking addiction hence encourage others of the possibility of quitting smoking.
Wilson, T. L., & Burger, J. M. (2011). Study guide, Personality, Eighth edition, Jerry Burger. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth. Read More
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