Learn that you can defend yourself
Martin Seligman had a comparative group in his famous experiment: in it were dogs, where the lever in the first cage worked. When they pressed it, the surge actually stopped. They learned the dogs quickly.
And when they came into the second cage, they were again looking for ways to escape the surge. Because this group of dogs had learned: I can do something against these annoying bumps. And they quickly found out what: They just went through the flap into the cage next door.
No matter what I do, it's wrong?
Martin Seligman called the fate of the first group a "learned helplessness" Someone once found out that he is seemingly powerless against an onerous condition - and eventually stops even trying to do anything about it. Even if he could easily escape this condition.
Now suppose again, you are the human being that you are. Do you know the situation with the dogs from your own life? It happens quite often that someone says: "No matter what I do, it's always wrong. I can not change anything about my situation. "
The baby experiment
Learned helplessness was later detected in humans. With babies, for example, a similar experiment was performed as with the dogs. No, without electric shock. But they shook them violently in their crib, that was quite different.
Some could do it with a head movement, a sensor in their pillow. Others did not have a sensor. Both groups reacted the same way as the dogs. And one group went to the dogs. Even beyond the baby's age we show similar reactions.
See the way out, if there is one
Now there are situations like that with the Chef in the example from above. Since we are exposed to the arbitrariness of others and may actually be helpless.
The problem in this case is that we can not see any way out even if suddenly there is one, for example when the old boss leaves and a new boss comes. Even then, we continue to think: "What I do, counts among those up there anyway."
Where do you find the studies?
- Seligman, MEP, Maier, SF (1967): Failure to Escape Traumatic Shock. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74, 1 - 9.
- Seligman, MEP (1979): Learned helplessness. Munich, Vienna, Baltimore: Urban and Schwarzenberg.
- Hiroto, DS, Seligman, MEP (1975): Generality of Learned Helplessness in Man. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 311 - 327.
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