Date: August 1975
Creator: Benson, James S.
Description: This research demonstrates that experience with uncontrollable reinforcement, here defined as continuous non-contingent positive feedback to solution attempts of insoluble problems, fails to produce the proactive interference phenomenon, learned helplessness, while uncontrollable aversive events, here defined as negative feedback to solution attempts of insoluble problems, produces that phenomenon. These results partially support the "learned helplessness" hypothesis of Seligman (1975) which predicts that experience with uncontrollable reinforcement, the offset of negative events or the onset of positive ones, results in learning that responding is independent of reinforcement and that learning transfers to subsequent situations. This research further demonstrates that experience with controllability, here defined as solubility, results in enhanced competence.
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