Learned helplessness and defensive strategies: A rejoinder


  • William F. Oakes

    1. Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
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The results of experiments reported by Oakes and Curtis (1982), Tennen, Drum, Gillen and Stanton (1982), and Tennen, Gillen, and Drum (1982) are seen as inconsistent with the cognitive learned helplessness theory of Seligman and his associates (Abramson, Seligman, & Teasdale, 1978; Alloy & Seligman, 1979). Comments on the Oakes and Curtis studies by Alloy (1982) and by Silver, Wortman, and Klos (1982) are seen as employing three defensive strategies: (1) Declaring the research findings to be irrelevant to the theory; (2) declaring the experiments to be flawed; and (3) modifying the theory to accommodate the research findings. This rejoinder argues that the research findings are relevant and that the criticisms are of questionable validity. It is suggested that the questions of the validity of the theory raised by these findings not be declared to be resolved, but that additional data bearing on the questions be sought.