Learned Helplessness


Definition: Learned Helplessness is a mental state in which an organism forced to bear aversive stimuli, or stimuli that are painful or otherwise unpleasant, becomes unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters with those stimuli, even if they are “escapable,” presumably because it has learned that it cannot control the situation.
The term was coined by psychologist Martin Seligman. Based on animal studies, Seligman found that they were prone to giving up hope if put in an environment where adverse outcomes were beyond their control. The same principle has wide application in explaining human behaviour and in particular employee demotivation.


More on behavior and motivation: Attribution Theory, Employee Commitment, Employee Involvement, Employee Motivation, ERG Theory, more...


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