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Learned Helplessness

  1. Christopher Peterson

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0500

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Peterson, C. 2010. Learned Helplessness. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Michigan

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Learned helplessness was discovered when researchers immobilized a dog and exposed it to electric shocks that could neither be avoided nor escaped. Twenty-four hours later, the dog was placed in a situation in which electric shock could be terminated by a simple response. The dog did not make this response; instead, it just sat passively. This behavior was in marked contrast to dogs in a control group that reacted vigorously to the shock and learned to turn it off.


  • depression;
  • helplessness;
  • learned helplessness;
  • learning