Overcoming learned helplessness

Is the moral of this story that you should find a rat who isn’t a rat?

“The next phase of the research examined the influence of a rat that had never been exposed to an uncontrollable situation on a rat that had. These pairs of rats showed greater adaptability than pairs that had been exposed to helplessness as individuals or in pairs. In addition, the researchers did not find outstanding differences between the learning ability of these pairs of rats where one had been exposed to uncontrollable conditions and the other hadn’t and pairs that were never exposed to uncontrollable conditions, which means that the effect of “learned helplessness” is effectively erased.”


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One Response to Overcoming learned helplessness

  1. Exodus says:

    Without reviewing the study, it seems to be significantly lacking. I don’t know how anyone could draw any conclusions based on the abstract. Gender plays a huge role in animal behavior so I would like to know the gender of the paired rats and the singles and at what age they were exposed to the stimuli and for how long.
    “The analysis revealed that rats, exposed to a situation in which they were powerless, for instance, electric shocks that they couldn’t possibly avoid, had a more difficult time learning how to avoid them in the future as compared to rats that were never exposed to situations of helplessness, a phenomenon known as learned helplessness.” …………This seems like commonsense to me since animals are creatures of habit. Humans exposed to chronic stress don’t always fair better once the stress is removed. Sometimes they even get ulcers once the stress is removed. Other factors that greatly influence learning are age of learning and exposure to specific behavioral or environmental conditions during critical developmental stages. Well anyway, maybe I’m just dumb and missing something but I just don’t see how this study provides conclusive evidence of anything.

    That said, from my own personal experience, I know that I tend to adapt more readily to stressful situations when I’m not paired with a male. Even in school, if I was paired with a male lab partner, I didn’t learn much and it didn’t improve my grade because he did most of the work ( and I was happy to let him ;D ) If I was paired with a female, I learned more and always performed much better overall because I tend to take the lead with a submissive female or I work equally as well with an assertive female. I guess this means that if I don’t want to end up with a Darwin Award next year that I better become single or find a female mate.


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