By Abramson, Lyn Y.; Seligman, Martin E.; Teasdale, John D.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 87(1), Feb 1978, 49-74.
Criticizes and reformulates the learned helplessness hypothesis. It is considered that the old hypothesis, when applied to learned helplessness in humans, has 2 major problems: (a) It does not distinguish between cases in which outcomes are uncontrollable for all people and cases in which they are uncontrollable only for some people (universal vs personal helplessness), and (b) it does not explain when helplessness is general and when specific, or when chronic and when acute. A reformulation based on a revision of attribution theory is proposed to resolve these inadequacies. According to the reformulation, once people perceive noncontingency, they attribute their helplessness to a cause. This cause can be stable or unstable, global or specific, and internal or external. The attribution chosen influences whether expectation of future helplessness will be chronic or acute, broad or narrow, and whether helplessness will lower self-esteem or not. The implications of this reformulation of human helplessness for the learned helplessness model of depression are outlined. (92 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)