ERIC Number: ED185149
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: N/A
Race/Class Differences in the Susceptibility to Helplessness.
Smith, Rita R.
The hypothesis is investigated that unproportional experience with uncontrollable situations for black and lower class individuals leads to an increased susceptibility to the poorer cognitive performance indicative of helplessness. Black and white lower and middle-class second and tenth graders were given no problems, solvable diagraph problems, and unsolvable diagraph problems, and then tested on a solvable Block Design Task. Performance on the Block Design Task indicated that exposure to the unsolvable task resulted in poor cognitive performance compared to exposure to the solvable task or no task. More importantly, black and lower class students were more susceptible to the poorer cognitive performance resulting from exposure to the unsolvable task. These results, analyzed in a helplessness framework, are discussed in terms of the social conditions which result in more experience with uncontrollability for black and lower class individuals. The results are interpreted as suggesting that cognitive differences between blacks and whites may be better explained as resulting from an environmentally caused, and therefore learned, susceptibility to helplessness as opposed to genetic differences. Lastly, intervention procedures are suggested. (Author)
Descriptors: Black Students, Cognitive Measurement, Cognitive Processes, Elementary Secondary Education, Intervention, Learning, Lower Class Students, Nature Nurture Controversy, Problem Solving, Racial Differences, Social Influences, White Students
Not available separately; See UD 020 192
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: For related documents see UD 020 192-209 and ED 181 100