Depression - Learned Helplessness (A2 Psychology) Revision Cards :D

These cards include:

  • Applying Seligman's theory of learned helplessness to depression
  • Evaluation of learned helplessness
  • Supporting research (Hiroto, 1974)


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  • Created by: Fyzah :p
  • Created on: 13-01-12 13:12

Applying Seligman's learned helplessness to depres

As people, we can generally control our environment, but sometimes bad situations just occur.

If such bad events continually occur, we learn to feel helpless and therefore learn to become depressed.

Patients become passive and accepting of thier situation and make little or no attempt to resolve thier problems - they have learnt to become helpless, even if they now have the chance to resolve thier problems.

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Evaluation of learned helplessness


  • Seligman's theory did not provide the full picture - Not everyone becomes helpless in these situations and Seligman was unable to explain the culture of self-blame or blaming others. For example, many depressed patients blame themselves for their failings which does not tie in wwith Seligman's idea that thet see themselves as helpless.
  • The experiance of feeling out of control in one particular situation is an experiance which is common to most people at some time during thier life, but very rarely does it lead to clinical depression.
  • This theory does not take biological factors, such as genetics, into account. (i.e. concordance rates within families, etc).
  • It is seen as reductionist as it over simplifies a complex disorder such as depression but suggesting that it is only caused by environmental factors.
  • Seligman's research on learned helplessness, whcih was conducted on dogs, cannot be generalised to humans. (Although Hiroto's can... It's on the next slide :D)
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