Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Gregory Benson & Paul E. Priester & Asma Jana-Masri
Learned helplessness is a condition that is brought about by repeated exposure to negative stimuli. The result is that the individual learns that there are no options and no possibility for an escape from the negative stimuli. Helplessness exists when an individual's actions have no perceived positive effect on outcomes. Learned helplessness is when an individual learns the response of resigning oneself passively to aversive conditions rather than taking action to change, escape, or avoid them. This learning occurs through repeated exposure to inescapable or unavoidable aversive events. Research by Martin Seligman has shown that helplessness is prominent in humans and has emotional, cognitive, and motivational consequences. He discovered from his research that prior experience, lack of discriminative control, and the importance of outcomes are three factors that contribute to learned helplessness. The concept has been successful at explaining the response of members of a minority group to the pressures ...