Noncontingent Success versus Noncontingent Failure and Learned Helplessness

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9 Citations (Scopus)


In order to study the effects of the valence of the outcome on learned helplessness, 40 undergraduate psychology students were assigned to one of four different groups for pretreatment on an instrumental task having a neutral buzzer as outcome: contingent failure, noncontingent failure, non-contingent success, or long noncontingent success. Both noncontingent success and noncontingent failure produced significant (p <.05) impairment of subsequent performance in a test task as measured by mean latency and number of failures to escape the buzzer. These results indicate that learned helplessness can be produced by experiencing uncontrollable positive, as well as uncontrollable negative, outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-238
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes


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