Seligman's Theory of Learned Helplessness
Clarisa Kashima Laksmi
Department of Psychology
Dr Goh Chee Leong
Learned helplessness is the tendency to fail to act to escape from a situation because of a history of repeated failures in the past (Ciccarelli & White, 2009). To describe learned helplessness in person is that recognizing that repeated failures will arouse the idea of a difficult task and impossible to solve. They sometimes blame the outside factors for their failure than their lack ability or skill. 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. 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...
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