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Predicting emotional concomitants of learned helplessness: The role of motivational orientation

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Abstract

Previous theoretical and empirical analyses indicate that an extrinsic motivational orientation, i.e., performing activities to please others or concern with criticism, predicts the cognitive and behavioral deficits associated with learned helplessness. Conversely, intrinsically motivated students, who perform activities for the inherent pleasure of mastery over challenge, have been shown to be virtually resilient to successive failure experiences and even show a facilitation effect. However, research has not yet addressed the extent to which motivational orientation predicts the emotional deficits associated with helplessness—namely, depression and a maladaptive attributional style. Furthermore, no research has examined the relative predictability of these variables to investigate subjects' feelings after an experimental manipulation of failure. The present research found support for the proposition that an extrinsic motivational orientation predicts depression and the Expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire. More importantly, our findings demonstrated that an extrinsic motivational orientation was a more reliable predictor of subjects' feelings after a failure manipulation than either depression or a maladaptive attributional style. These findings are discussed in light of intervention strategies to attenuate the development of an extrinsic motivational orientation in students.

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Boggiano, A.K., Barrett, M., Silvern, L. et al. Predicting emotional concomitants of learned helplessness: The role of motivational orientation. Sex Roles 25, 577–593 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00289565

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