I was said that because the experiment of Seligman that gave birth the theory of learned helplessness was an expansion of Pavlov's experiment, hence the word "learned" in the term should be understood as conditioning, not learning in general. So perhaps it's better termed as "conditioned helplessness"?

According to Learning - Wikipedia:

Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences.

It's clear that people with learned/conditioned helplessness acquiring new behaviors, but do they acquire new understanding, knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences?

What is the difference between conditioning and learning?
How does one escape learned helplessness?
Are association, conditioning, and symbolic learning the same thing?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The Wikipedia article really should say "or" instead of "and"; ie, acquiring any of those things (not necessarily all of them) constitutes learning. As behavior is one of the items listed, "learned helplessness" is correct, as learning does take place. However, you are right that "conditioned helplessness" would be a more specific term to use. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Feb 3 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg I wonder if being conditioned would lead to acquire new understanding, knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, or preferences? $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Feb 4 at 6:02

Wikipedia explains that there's not one theory of learned helplessness but several, some more encompassing than others with respect to what is learned:

Research has found that a human's reaction to feeling a lack of control differs both between individuals and between situations, i.e. learned helplessness sometimes remains specific to one situation but at other times generalizes across situations.[7][9][10] Such variations are not explained by the original theory of learned helplessness, and an influential view is that such variations depend on an individual's attributional or explanatory style.[11] According to this view, how someone interprets or explains adverse events affects their likelihood of acquiring learned helplessness and subsequent depression.[12] For example, people with pessimistic explanatory style tend to see negative events as permanent ("it will never change"), personal ("it's my fault"), and pervasive ("I can't do anything correctly"), and are likely to suffer from learned helplessness and depression.[13]

(Aside: contra to the somewhat one-sided way in which Wikipedia discusses this, the expanded theories were not that easy to demonstrate reliably, at least not with a sizeable effect.)

  • $\begingroup$ so is it correct to say that the original theory is about "conditioned helplessness", while current theories are more about "learned helplessness"? $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Feb 8 at 6:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Ooker: yes it is. But the original model is still used e.g. in pre-clinical trials for anti-depressants. $\endgroup$
    – Fizz
    Feb 8 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ Is it correct to say that animals can only have conditioned helplessness, while humans can have learned helplessness? I suppose this question is essentially asking "do animals have beliefs, values, understandings, attitudes, etc?" $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Feb 11 at 3:08

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