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Abstract

Three papers in the Journal of Personality (Oakes & Curtis, 1982; Tennen, Drum, Gillen, & Stanton, 1982; Tennen, Gillen, & Drum, 1982) report that behavioral deficits characteristic of learned helplessness occur independently of perceptions of and attributions for noncontingency. The present article discusses the problems for the cognitive mediational component of helplessness theory raised by these three papers. It is argued that while these papers do not seriously challenge helplessness theory because they fail to test adequately the central proposition of the model, they point to the theory's need for greater elaboration of the processes or mechanisms linking objective experiences, perceptions, attributions, expectations, and behavioral effects of uncontrollability. Suggestions for some of the additional mediational processes a revised helplessness theory should incorporate are offered, followed by a discussion of the role of these processes in leading to the relatively greater support found for perceptions and attributions as mediators of behavioral helplessness in natural vs. laboratory environments.