Learned Helplessness - Sport Psy

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					LEARNED HELPLESSNESS
    AND CONTROL

      Damon Burton
    University of Idaho
What is ―learned
helplessness?‖
       LEARNED
 HELPLESSNESS DEFINED
• Learned helplessness – is the belief
  that ―we can’t change the course of
  negative events—that failure is
  inevitable and insurmountable.‖
• Learned helplessness is about
  responses to failure NOT success
• Learned helplessness is a control NOT
  a competence problem.
 ORIGINS OF
HELPLESSNESS
   ACADEMIC LEARNED
     HELPLESSNESS
• Many accomplished students shied away
  from challenge and fell apart in the face of
  setbacks.
• Many less skilled students seized challenges
  with relish and were energized by setbacks.
• Many skills students questioned or
  condemned their intelligence when they
  failed.
• Many less skilled students never questioned
  their ability or even felt they failed.
           HELPLESS VERSUS
          MASTERY PATTERNS
• ―Learned helplessness‖ (LH) patterns – initially the
    belief that failure was beyond their control and
    nothing could be done.
•   Updated to include denigration of intelligence,
    plunging expectations, negative emotions, low
    persistence and deteriorating performance.
•   ―Mastery-oriented‖ (MO) patterns – was the hardy
    belief that success are replicable and mistakes
    rectifiable. To them, failure is surmountable so they
    remained focused on mastery in spite of their present
    difficulties.
          DIENER & DWECK
             RESEARCH
5   th& 6th graders were identified as
  mastery or helpless and then solved a
  series of math problems
 First 8 problems could be solved, but the
  next 4 problems were beyond their skills
 Researchers assessed problem-solving
  strategies used and thoughts and feelings
  expressed while the kids worked on the
  problems with a ―talk aloud‖ strategy.
       FREQUENCY OF
     HELPLESS BEHAVIOR
    Results across many
    studies show that
    • mastery patterns -- 40%
    • helpless patterns -- 40%
    • neutral patterns -- 10-15%
       HELPLESS RESULTS

   Both groups were equally successful
    and positive on the success problems.
   Over one-third of helpless students
    denigrated their abilities and blamed
    their intelligence for their failure.
   LH students believed they had more
    failure than success.
   Two-thirds expressed negative affect
    during failure from boredom to
    anxiety.
        HELPLESS RESULTS

   Their focus went to ―saving face‖ rather
    than solving the problem.
     off-task thoughts (e.g., role in play)
     changed rules feel successful

   Performance plummeted because of use
    of poor problem-solving strategies
   Other research that allowed students to
    go back to success problems found
    serious deterioration in performance
    following failure.
      MASTERY RESULTS

   Mastery students didn’t focus on the
    reasons for failure.
   They didn’t seem to believe they
    were failing.
   MO students gave themselves
    cognitive and motivational
    instructions on how to improve
    their performance.
   All used self-monitoring and self-
    instruction.
       MASTERY RESULTS
   They remained confident and
    optimistic.
   They relished the challenge of
    overcoming failure.
   80% maintained or improved the
    quality of their problem-solving
    strategies.
   25% improved and taught
    themselves new strategies
   Failure was not a ―personal
    indictment‖ but a ―challenge.‖
        CLASSROOM
    CONFIRMATION STUDY
   Licht & Dweck (1984) asked students to
    read a booklet and take a mastery test.
   Form A had a confusing passage
    promoting failure and Form B didn’t.
   Both mastery and helpless students
    performed well on the ―success booklet.‖
   72% of helpless and 68% of mastery
    students got all 7 questions correct.
   72% of mastery but only 35% of helpless
    were able to master the ―failure booklet.‖
              HELPLESSNESS
              IMPLICATIONS
   Eventually we all must confront failure
    situations.
   Do students choose to accept difficult
    challenges or avoid them by selecting easy
    tasks that guarantee success?
   ―Challenge seekers‖ will normally be
    highly successful in anything the do,
    whereas ―challenge avoiders‖ will often
    not perform well when confronting failure
    and adversity.
      ROLE OF GOALS IN
       HELPLESSNESS
 Elliott & Dweck (1988) found that
  helpless and mastery students have
  different goals.
 ―Performance goals‖ are about
  winning positive judgments about
  your competence and avoiding
  negative ones.
 Performance goal setters want to
  look smart and avoid looking dumb.
       ROLE OF GOALS IN
        HELPLESSNESS
   ―Learning goals‖ are focused on
    increasing competence. They promote
    learning new skills, mastering new
    tasks and understanding new
    material.
   Learning goal setters want to get
    smarter.
   The focus is on process rather than
    product—learning rather than
    achieving.
      WHICH IS MORE
       IMPORTANT?
 In the real world, learning and
  performance goals are often in
  conflict.
 Do they choose tasks that make
  them look smart or ones that help
  them learn as much as possible?
 Overemphasis on performance goals
  can hurt learning in the quest to
  look smart or talented.
       GOALS CREATE
    MOTIVATION PATTERNS
   Elliott & Dweck (1988) gave 5th
    graders either a performance or a
    learning goal.
   Both groups got a series of successes
    on the same task followed by several
    difficult problems.
   Many students in the performance
    goal task showed the helpless pattern.
    IMPACT OF ABILITY
 Most students in the learning goal
  condition demonstrated mastery
  patterns.
 Students with performance goals
  who were convinced they had high
  ability were more likely to
  demonstrate mastery patterns.
 Ability made no difference for
  students with learning goals.
           IMPACT OF
       REAL WORLD GOALS
   Farrell & Dweck (1985) gave junior high
    students new science material.
   After a week of learning, students were
    tested on new kinds of problems.
   On the novel problems, learning goal
    students
    • scored significantly higher.
    • produced 50% more work
    • tried to apply principles to solve the
      problems
How do we help students
or athletes who are
learned helpless to
overcome this problem?
           ATTRIBUTION
            RETRAINING
   Group 1 received only successes
   Group 2 received mostly successes,
    but they were taught to attribute
    failure to low effort or other internal-
    stable-controllable factors.
   Results showed no improvement for
    Group 1
   Group 2 showed no impairment
    following failure and most actually
    improved.
What are the limitations
of ―attribution retraining‖
in sport?
ORIGINS VERSUS PAWNS

   Origins – a person who feels that
    he is in control of his fate. He
    feels that the cause for his
    behavior is within himself.
   Pawns – persons who feel pushed
    around. They are the puppet and
    someone else is pulling the
    strings. They have an external
    locus of control.
          ORIGIN AND PAWN
            COMPARISON
       Origins                  Pawns
   positively              negatively
    motivated                motivated
   optimistic              defensive
   confident               irresolute
   accepts challenges      avoids challenges
   feels potent            powerless
   competent &             aimless
    committed
     De CHARMS ST LOUIS
        SCHOOL STUDY
   3 year study in 4th through 6th grades
    of East St Louis elementary schools
   Week-long workshop to train teachers
    and have them design activities to
    teach principles to their kids
   Teachers implemented one activity per
    week throughout the school year
   Kids were pre and post tested each
    year.
     De CHARMS’ RESULTS

   Kids academic progress was
    closer to their suburban peers
    each year of the study.
   Absenteeism and discipline
    referrals declined steadily
   Enjoyment of school and attitude
    of kids and their parents rose
    steadily
         SELIGMAN’S
     EXPLANATORY STYLE
   Permanence – Helpless people believe
    the causes of bad events that happen
    to them are permanent. They believe
    bad events will persist and will always
    affect their lives.
    People who resist helplessness believe
    the causes of bad events are
    temporary. People who believe good
    events have permanent causes are
    more optimistic than people who
    believe they have temporary causes.
          SELIGMAN’S
      EXPLANATORY STYLE
   Pervasiveness – Helpless people who make
    universal explanations for their failures give
    up on everything when failure strikes in one
    area. People who make specific explanations
    may become helpless in one part of the life
    but march stalwartly on in the others.
    Optimists believe that bad events have
    specific causes while good events will
    enhance everything they do. The pessimist
    believes that bad events have universal
    causes and that good events are caused by
    specific factors.
         SELIGMAN’S
     EXPLANATORY STYLE
   Hope – Hope is the art of finding
    temporary and specific causes for
    misfortune. Temporary causes limit
    helplessness in time, and specific
    causes limit helplessness to the
    original situation.
   Permanent causes produce
    helplessness far into the future, and
    universal causes spread helplessness
    thru all of our lives and activities
         SELIGMAN’S
     EXPLANATORY STYLE
   Personalization – People who blame
    themselves when they fail have low
    self-esteem as a consequence. They
    think they are worthless, talentless
    and unlovable.
   People who blame external events
    when they fail believe do not lose self-
    esteem when bad events strike. On
    the whole, they like themselves better
    than people who blame themselves do.
      WEST POINT STUDY
   1200 plebes are admitted each year
    for Beast Barracks in July
   6 quit the first day and by the first day
    of classes 100 of our best students
    have quit.
   Pessimists are much more like to quit
    than optimists and their grades are
    worse than their ACT scores predict.
   Optimists often overachieve compared
    to their ACT scores.
      DEPRESSION STUDY
   In September students are tested for
    Explanatory Style and depression
   Following the midterm exam, they
    were tested for depression again.
   Results confirmed . . .
    • 30% who experienced personal failure
      were depressed
    • 30% of the pessimists were depressed
    • 70% of pessimists who experienced
      personal failure were depressed
    METROPOLITAN LIFE
    STUDY: THE PROBLEM
   Selling insurance requires dealing
    with frequent rejection and failure.
   Thus, many agents quit each year
    dramatically increasing training
    costs while reducing productivity.
   The insurance industry wants to
    select agents who are more
    resilient and handle failure
    constructively.
     METROPOLITAN LIFE
     STUDY: THE PROBLEM
   Every year 60,000 candidates apply for
    jobs as new insurance agents and only
    5,000 are hired.
   Even with extensive training, half quit
    the first year.
   By the end of Year 4, 80% have quit.
   Because it costs $30,000 to hire and
    train one agent, high turnover rates
    are costing companies $75 million a
    year.
    METROPOLITAN LIFE
    STUDY: THE PROBLEM
   Agents find it difficult to
    experience the rejection of
    hearing people tell them ―no‖
    repeatedly.
   It’s easy to get discouraged as
    the ―no’s‖ mount, prompting
    them to get more frustrated and
    pessimistic.
     METROPOLITAN LIFE
    ADVANTAGE OPTIMISTS
   200 agents took the Explanatory
    Styles Inventory and sales results
    compared for both groups.
   Optimists sold 37% more
    insurance than pessimists.
   For a sample of 104 new agents,
    pessimists were twice as likely to
    quit as optimists. In fact, 59 of
    104 quit.
     METROPOLITAN LIFE
    ADVANTAGE OPTIMISTS
   The Agent Selection Questionnaire
    (ASQ) is the industry standard for
    selecting insurance agents.
   Agents with scores in the top half of
    the ASQ sold 20% more insurance
    than those in the bottom half.
   Agents in the top quarter sold 50%
    more insurance than those from the
    bottom quarter.
     METROPOLITAN LIFE
    ADVANTAGE OPTIMISTS
   In an interesting study testing of the
    power of optimism, 100 agents were
    hired who were optimists but failed the
    Insurance Industry’s exam the Career
    Profile.
   This group of special agents outsold
    pessimists who passed the CP by 21% the
    first year and 57% the second year.
   They also sold as much as optimists who
    passed the CP and had similar work
    histories.
The End

				
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