A therapy to alleviate learned helplessness



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Sixty-four rats were pretreated and then tested in a shock escape/avoidance shuttlebox. Forty-eight Ss were divided into 6 groups (n = 8) and given one of the following major pretreatments: confinement alone or confinement plus inescapable shock. These major pretreatments were followed by one of the following: escapable swimming, inescapable swimming, or nothing. Additionally, one group (n = 8) was given confinement only in an isolated room to control for odor cues and an eighth group (n = 8) was not pretreated at all. Eighteen to twenty-two hours following pretraining, all animals were given 20 trials in a shock escape/avoidance shuttlebox. Animals given preshock showed increased escape latencies and fewer escapes and avoidances than control or restrained Ss, and restrained Ss greater escape latencies but not fewer escapes and avoidances than control Ss. The swim conditions appeared to have no effect on later behavior, and the role of odor cues was indeterminant. The results were discussed in relation to several hypotheses, and it was concluded that the "learned helplessness" hypothesis (Maier, Seligman, and Solomon, 1969) was the most satisfactory in explaining the results.



Helplessness (Psychology)