ERIC Number: ED255791
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Conditions Favoring a Facilitation Effect in the Learned Helplessness Paradigm.
Samuel, William; Nilsen, Paul
Following a traditional learned helplessness paradigm, subjects initially tried to terminate random bursts of noise using a button-pressing manipulandum and next tried to solve 20 serially-presented anagrams. The noise was broadcast at either a loud or soft intensity, and the subject's button-pressing was either successful (Escape condition) or unsuccessful (Inescape condition) in terminating the noise or, in a control (Signal) condition, served as a cue to the experimenter that the noise had been heard. In Experiment 1, subjects were evenly divided between males and females and the manipulandum had two buttons available for pressing. Although the Inescape group perceived itself as having virtually no control over the noise, there was little evidence among these subjects of the debilitation in anagram performance which is characteristic of learned helplessness. Instead, the performance of females exposed to inescapable soft noise was significantly facilitated relative to that of females in the Escape and Signal groups. In Experiment 2, all subjects were female, and the manipulandum had either one or two buttons on it. Once again, the anagram performance of subjects in the Inescape group was somewhat better than that of subjects in the Escape and Signal groups. Combined data for female subjects using a two-button manipulandum in Experiments 1 and 2 showed clear evidence of facilitated performance among those exposed to inescapable soft noise. Self-reported symptoms of arousal and mood as well as directly monitored heart rate suggested that subjects' internal states strongly influenced their task performance. Four pages of references conclude the document. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (91st, Anaheim, CA, August 26-30, 1983). Research supported by grants from the Foundation of California State University, Sacramento.