Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control

Paperback | April 1, 1995

byChristopher Peterson, Steven F. Maier, Martin E. P. Seligman

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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 describedin 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 thecognitive 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, andfuture 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 culturaltopics.

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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 describedin the 1960s among laboratory animals, learne...

Christopher Petersen is at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Steven F. Maier is at University of Colorado.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:376 pages, 5.98 × 9.25 × 1.1 inPublished:April 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195044673

ISBN - 13:9780195044676

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction1.1. The Phenomena of Helplessness and Personal Control1.2. The Theory of Learned Helplessness1.3. Three Uses of "Learned Helplessness"1.4. Learned Helplessness: Inward, Downward, and Outward1.5. Why Learned Helplessness Has Been Controversial1.6. Why Learned Helplessness Has Been Popular2. Learned Helplessness in Animals2.1. Learned Helplessness Theory2.2. The Controversy2.3. Contiguity Versus Contingency2.4. Representation and Expectation2.5. What We Know2.6. What We Don't Know3. The Biology of Learned Helplessness3.1. Norepinephrine3.2. Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid3.3. Endogenous Opiates3.4. Transmitters, Neuromodulators, and Hormones3.5. Corticotrophin Releasing Hormone (CRH)3.6. Issues Omitted3.7. What We Know3.8. What We Don't Know4. Learned Helplessness in People4.1. Criteria of Learned Helplessness4.2. Operationalizing Learned Helplessness in the Laboratory4.3. A Meta-Analysis of Human Helplessness Studies4.4. Other Aspects of Human Helplessness4.5. The Generality of Learned Helplessness Among People4.6. Cognition and Self-Report4.7. Other Explanations4.8. What We Know4.9. What We Don't Know5. The Attributional Reformulation5.1. Historical Background: Attribution Theory and Theorizing5.2. Causal Explanations and Locus of Control5.3. The Reformulated Learned Helplessness Model5.4. Assessing Explanatory Style5.5. Empirical Studies of Explanatory Style5.6. What We Know5.7. What We Don't Know6. Learned Helplessness and Depression6.1. What Is Depression?6.2. The Reformulation of the Learned Helplessness Model of Depression6.3. Modernity and Depression6.4. Controversies6.5. What We Know6.6. What We Don't Know7. Learned Helplessness and Social Problems7.1. Survey of Applications7.2. What We Know7.3. What We Don't Know8. Learned Helplessness and Physical Health8.1. Some Groundrules8.2. Risk Factors for Illness8.3. Mechanisms8.4. Health and Illness in Animals Versus People8.5. What We Know8.6. What We Don't Know9. Epilogue9.1. A Brief History of Choices9.2. The Importance of Control9.3. Learned Helplessness as a Model of Scientific Dispute and Progress9.4. Learned Helplessness and the Age of Personal Control9.5. Optimism Institutes

Editorial Reviews

"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