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LEARNED HELPLESSNESS A laboratory model of depression in which exposure to a series of unforeseen adverse situations gives rise to a sense of helplessness or an inability to cope with or devise ways to escape such situations, even when escape is possible. learned helplessness. (n. d. ). The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Retrieved September 29, 2009, from Dictionary. com website: http: //dictionary. reference. com/browse/learned helplessness
LEARNING TO BE DEPRESSED Seligman, M. E. P. , & Maier, S. F. (1967). Failure to escape traumatic shock. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74, 1 -9.
� � Escape Conditioning: A form of conditioning in which the subject learns to perform a behavior that terminates an aversive stimulus, pain or punishment by escaping from the aversive stimulus. Avoidance Conditioning: A type of conditioning in which the subject is conditioned or trained to respond or behave to an anticipated unpleasant event by avoiding the aversive stimulus or punishment every time the cue or warning signal is perceived (where the cue is given before the aversive stimulus starts). escape conditioning (n. d. ). Retrieved September 29, 2009, from Biology. Online. com website: http: //www. biologyonline. org/dictionary/Escape_conditioning avoidance conditioning (n. d. ). Retrieved September 29, 2009 from Biology. Online. com website: http: //www. biologyonline. org/dictionary/Avoidance_conditioning
Variables In this research the Independent Variable (predictor) is the dogs ability to escape. The dogs were placed in separate groups in which some of them were able to escape the shock and some had no option of escaping the shock. The Dependent Variable (criterion) was to see if learned helplessness had occurred in the dogs.
Sample Seligman and Maier used 24 average sized dogs that were divided into three groups. The first group of eight dogs were placed in the escape group. The second group of eight dogs were placed in the no-escape group. The third group of eight dogs were placed in the no-harness control group.
Procedure � � 1. Each dog from both the escape group and noescape group were placed in a retraining harness. The dogs had a panel on each side of their head to keep them facing forward. When the dogs moved their heads to either side they were able to push on the panel. 2. The dogs from the no-escape group were paired with the dogs from the escape group. When an electrical shock was given the dogs in the escape group were able to move their head to either side to press the panel and the shock would stop. The dogs in the no-escape group were delivered the exact same shock but no matter what they did the shock would not stop, until the dogs in the escape group stopped the shock by pressing the panel.
Procedure Continued � � 3. The dogs received 64 shocks at 90 second intervals. 4. 1 day after this experiment all of the dogs were individually put in a shuttle box that had a partition in the middle. There was a light attached to the box. When the light turned off there would be shock would go through the floor 10 seconds later. If the dog jumped over the partition within the 10 seconds they would completely avoid the shock. If they never make the jump the shock continues for 60 seconds.
Measurements The dogs learning was measured two separate ways: 1. The amount of time it took the dog to see the light turn off until it jumped over the partition. 2. How many dogs completely failed to escape the shock.
Results There was a very slight difference between the escape group and the no-harness control group, which was rather insignificant. The time it took for the dogs in the escape group to hit the panel and terminate the shock quickly decreased. Out of the eight dogs in the no-escape group, six dogs completely failed to escape the shock in nine or even all ten of the trials.
Conclusion This experiment raises the question of “is this ethical? ” The dogs received painful shocks and although painful, they were not physically harmful. After the experiment the dogs of the escape group were tested again one week later to see the lasting effects. Overall this experiment proved that helplessness can truly be learned as seen by the dogs of the no-escape group.
How can we relate Seligman and Maier’s research of Learned Helplessness of Dogs to Human Beings? (Finkelstein and Ramey, 1997) did research of learned helplessness by using hooking up mobiles to controlled pillows which some infants were able to learn to control with their heads. http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=g. Fm. FOmpr. T t 0