Learned Helplessness
Start writing a post

In my business class, my professor constantly reminds us to take control of our own actions and to be responsible for what we do. But what if someone was not taught to do this? Today, I will embark upon a thought experiment.

The first example of learned helplessness was studied by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. In this experiment, for the first part, he divided up dogs into three groups. One group was a control. The other two were yoked together. Of the dogs in the second and third groups, only the second group was under the impression that its shock was not random. They had a lever to press that could end the shock, and so were able to deduce that this was the case. The third group of dogs meanwhile, thought that the shock was a completely random act, because when they pressed their lever, nothing would happen. Their lever was actually was controlled by the actions of the second group of dogs. However, because the third group of dogs thought the shocks were administered at random, the shock was inescapable.

In the next part of this experiment, the same group of dogs were tested in a shuttle-box apparatus (see picture above). The dogs would be able to escape shocks administered on one side of the box if they jumped over a barrier placed in the middle. The dogs in the first two groups were quickly able to figure this out and escaped the shocks. However, the dogs in the third group, who had learned from the previous experiment that nothing they did would have an effect on the shocks, simply lay down when they were shocked.

This experiment is extremely revealing, and the effects it can have on us humans cannot be understated. What would the effect on a human be, if they were simply taught that their circumstances were brought about as a result of luck, and nothing more? Based on the results of Seligman's study, I think it would be fair to assume that they would have a similar reaction to the dogs. Obviously, it isn't fair to extrapolate results from dogs to humans, but the experiment is revealing, nonetheless. Could it be the case that individuals who are taught their circumstances are a result of luck or arbitrary happenstance might have a similar reaction to the dogs in Seligman's third group?

Fortunately, there was a cure that Seligman and his other experimenters devised to help the dogs in the third group. They had to help the dogs jump over the gate themselves. They had to pick up these dogs who were lying helplessly on the ground and move their legs for them. On one hand, it is unfortunate these dogs were in this position, but on the other hand, it is good to hear they could overcome the obstacles placed in their way. After learning more about Seligman and his studies, I am hopeful that we can move forward with them as a guide. One of the best ways to do so, is Christianity. God is the perfect pick-me up, and something that more people should be exposed to. God calls us to take ownership of our actions, and also assures us that He will always be there to pick us up if we fail.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments