Affects of Learned Helplessness Ever been taught to do something and when you try to change your way of doing it, you end up failing? You’ve tried but feel like you need to give up? That is learned helplessness. For example, in India, baby elephants are tied to a pole with rope by their feet and they struggle to break free. They try various times until they have realized they are not able to escape. Once they have grown to adult size, they are now capable to escape if they wish to because they are stronger than the rope.
They will not escape because the baby elephant has learned to be helpless. There are many different ways that learned helplessness can be applied to everyone in their everyday lifestyle. At least everyone has felt helpless once in their lives. Learned helplessness has been known to link to both physical and mental health issues. Many individuals who suffer from depression, seem to think they are helpless. For example, a student takes an exam and does not pass it. They then think because they failed they are stupid.
By thinking this way, whenever this student takes another exam and fails it, they will keep thinking they are useless and give up; no longer try. Those who have high-stress are more likely to also develop helplessness. Males and females who are overweight or obese, tend to lack physical activity. There was a study conducted by Trout and Graber (2009) in a high school (N= 12) where they assessed seven female students and five male students whose body mass index was the same or higher than the normal body mass they are suppose to have for their age.
According to Trout and Graber (p. 72) “Despite recognizing the relationship between lack of physical activity and obesity, many participants avoided participation because they had been traumatized to the extent of exhibiting symptoms consistent with learned helplessness. ” This study showed that these twelve students would engage in physical education activities if they were shielded away from their peers. The onset of overweight and obesity has been linked to many factors such as: Depression, poor nutrition, their lifestyle, body image and the media, appetite signals, genetics, and psychological, social, and demographic factors.
The physical education teachers say that the problem with children who are overweight or obese is out of their control because it is beyond getting that one hour of physical education at school. This overweight problem also has to do with their nutrition, physical activity outside of school, and their genetics. There was also a study conducted by Jackson and Smith (2010) about female college students who had negative thoughts about their bodies. Interviews were conducted with 30 participants varying on body image satisfaction.
They discussed about freshman gained weight, and their coping strategies. Between 51% and 72% of freshman gain about 15 pounds their first year in college. Several studies conducted predict that students would become obese, gaining between 9. 6 and 27 pounds by the time of graduation. These participants lived on campus, and had access to the gymnasium. 47% of participants said they wanted to lose weight, 37% said they were trying to stay the same weight and 17% said they were not doing anything about it. Neurotics also tend to think they’re helpless.
There was a study conducted to est how people cope with high levels of stress. There was a sample size of one hundred and twenty-four participants who took part in the experiment (Females= 73, Males= 51). There is approximately the same number of high- neuroticisms and lowneuroticisms. Participants were randomly placed to either mild or high stress condition. The participants in the mild- stress condition attempted six anagrams with a median solve time of 315 or less. Those participants who were in the mild- stress condition, were given paper-and-pen, and can solve the anagram in anyway they would like.
They were given the correct words for each anagram at the end of the completion. For the high-stress condition, participants also received six anagrams and were given 30s to solve the anagrams. The median time for the solving of the anagrams were 120s or more. Participants were not allowed to have paper-and-pen, and they must solve each anagram in order. The participants were given the answer to each anagram after completing them. Those who participated in the high-stress condition reported lower levels of energetic arousal, tone, and self esteem.
They reported to be more tensed. The high neuroticism participants reported they had lower levels of energetic arousal and self esteem. In India, there was a study conducted in a high school of 104 students in the tenth grade. They were randomly selected on the basis of scores on the Prolonged Deprivation Scale developed by Misra and Tripathi (1980). Selected from a large pool of students, on Q1, fifty-two students scored less than or equal to 192 on the PDS, and 52 scored greater than or equal to 275.
Age range of the students were from 15 to 18 years old. In order to to measure Prolong Deprivation Mirsa and Tripathi (1980) developed a scale that contained 96 items referring to the following areas: housing conditions, home environment, economic sufficiency, childhood experiences, sociocultural experiences, and so forth. Johnson (2009) designed a study to investigate whether “goal-directed attentional deployment to emotional faces serves as an effective mechanism for emotion egulation and whether individual differences in this ability predicts more effective emotion regulation” (p. 8).
There was a total of one hundred and nine participants who performed dotprobe task under stress. Their task was to focus their attention on happy faces and to ignore the angry faces or to have no attentional goal. Those who were given the task to focus on the happy faces reported nearly three times less frustrated when solving to a stressful anagram compared to those who were not given this task.
As for the study we are conducting, this study allows us to understand learned helplessness and how our participants manage easy and difficult tasks. Participants were asked to solve a total of six anagrams with 3 difficulty conditions. The easy condition, moderate condition, and hard condition. Although our main focus was on easy and hard condition. Participants were also presented with a series of questions asking the difficulty of the anagrams, and if they believe others would have about the same difficulty solving these anagrams just as they did.
We collected different information from our participants such as age, gender, ethnicity, and whether or not English was the first language spoken at home. We expect participants that completed the easy anagram task find the task easier than those who completed the hard anagram task, and that males would find the task easier than women. We also expect those participants who found the easy task easier than those who completed the hard anagram task, to be less frustrated than those who conducted the hard task.