You know how sometimes people feel like no matter what they do, things just won’t get better? That’s called “learned helplessness.” It’s like when someone thinks they have no power over a situation, so they just give up, even when there’s a chance they could change things.
The term comes from these psychologists, Seligman and Maier, back in 1967. They did this experiment with dogs. Some dogs could stop electric shocks by pressing a lever, while others couldn’t. The dogs that couldn’t control the shocks eventually gave up and wouldn’t even try to get away from the shocks later on. Even when they could simply jump over something to escape, they just sat there.
Basically, those dogs felt like there was no point in trying anymore because they thought they couldn’t change the situation.
This isn’t just about dogs though. Humans can feel this way too. It’s like when you try and try but nothing seems to go your way, so you think, “Why bother?” This feeling can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It’s super important to remember that it’s all about how you see the situation. Even if someone can change things, if they think they can’t, they’ll act like they can’t.
But the cool thing is, if you teach people they have control or give them ways to deal with tough times, you can help them shake off that feeling of helplessness. Cool, right?
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