Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control

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When experience with uncontrollable events gives rise to the expectation that events in the future will also elude control, disruptions in motivation, emotion, and learning may ensue. "Learned helplessness" refers to the problems that arise in the wake of uncontrollability. First described in the 1960s among laboratory animals, learned helplessness has since been applied to a variety of human problems entailing inappropriate passivity and demoralization. While learned helplessness is best known as an explanation ...

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Overview

When experience with uncontrollable events gives rise to the expectation that events in the future will also elude control, disruptions in motivation, emotion, and learning may ensue. "Learned helplessness" refers to the problems that arise in the wake of uncontrollability. First described in the 1960s among laboratory animals, learned helplessness has since been applied to a variety of human problems entailing inappropriate passivity and demoralization. While learned helplessness is best known as an explanation of depression, studies with both people and animals have mapped out the cognitive and biological aspects. The present volume, written by some of the most widely recognized leaders in the field, summarizes and integrates the theory, research, and application of learned helplessness. Each line of work is evaluated critically in terms of what is and is not known, and future directions are sketched. More generally, psychiatrists and psychologists in various specialties will be interested in the book's argument that a theory emphasizing personal control is of particular interest in the here and now, as individuality and control are such salient cultural topics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The applications of the theory [of learned helplessness] to current issues (including depression, academic achievement, and physical well-being) are exciting, thought-provoking, and highly relevant." —Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195044669
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/22/1993
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

University of Colorado

University of Pennsylvania

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
1.1. The Phenomena of Helplessness and Personal Control
1.2. The Theory of Learned Helplessness
1.3. Three Uses of "Learned Helplessness"
1.4. Learned Helplessness: Inward, Downward, and Outward
1.5. Why Learned Helplessness Has Been Controversial
1.6. Why Learned Helplessness Has Been Popular
2. Learned Helplessness in Animals
2.1. Learned Helplessness Theory
2.2. The Controversy
2.3. Contiguity Versus Contingency
2.4. Representation and Expectation
2.5. What We Know
2.6. What We Don't Know
3. The Biology of Learned Helplessness
3.1. Norepinephrine
3.2. Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
3.3. Endogenous Opiates
3.4. Transmitters, Neuromodulators, and Hormones
3.5. Corticotrophin Releasing Hormone (CRH)
3.6. Issues Omitted
3.7. What We Know
3.8. What We Don't Know
4. Learned Helplessness in People
4.1. Criteria of Learned Helplessness
4.2. Operationalizing Learned Helplessness in the Laboratory
4.3. A Meta-Analysis of Human Helplessness Studies
4.4. Other Aspects of Human Helplessness
4.5. The Generality of Learned Helplessness Among People
4.6. Cognition and Self-Report
4.7. Other Explanations
4.8. What We Know
4.9. What We Don't Know
5. The Attributional Reformulation
5.1. Historical Background: Attribution Theory and Theorizing
5.2. Causal Explanations and Locus of Control
5.3. The Reformulated Learned Helplessness Model
5.4. Assessing Explanatory Style
5.5. Empirical Studies of Explanatory Style
5.6. What We Know
5.7. What We Don't Know
6. Learned Helplessness and Depression
6.1. What Is Depression?
6.2. The Reformulation of the Learned Helplessness Model of Depression
6.3. Modernity and Depression
6.4. Controversies
6.5. What We Know
6.6. What We Don't Know
7. Learned Helplessness and Social Problems
7.1. Survey of Applications
7.2. What We Know
7.3. What We Don't Know
8. Learned Helplessness and Physical Health
8.1. Some Groundrules
8.2. Risk Factors for Illness
8.3. Mechanisms
8.4. Health and Illness in Animals Versus People
8.5. What We Know
8.6. What We Don't Know
9. Epilogue
9.1. A Brief History of Choices
9.2. The Importance of Control
9.3. Learned Helplessness as a Model of Scientific Dispute and Progress
9.4. Learned Helplessness and the Age of Personal Control
9.5. Optimism Institutes

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