Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 185–195 | Cite as

Learned helplessness deficits: Uncontrollable outcomes or perceived failure?

  • Anthony H. Winefield
  • Adrian Barnett
  • Marika Tiggemann


An experiment is described showing that learned helplessness deficits are produced by prior exposure to uncontrollable outcomes rather than perceived failure. Although the controllability manipulation did produce differences in perceived success or failure, similar differences were also induced by means of instructional feedback. These latter differences, within the controllable and uncontrollable groups, were not associated with poorer performance by subjects given failure feedback. Moreover, the instructional feedback did not influence subjects' perceptions of controllability or uncontrollability. The results confirm that helplessness deficits cannot be explained as reactions to task failure.


Social Psychology Poor Performance Similar Difference Prior Exposure Task Failure 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony H. Winefield
    • 1
  • Adrian Barnett
    • 1
  • Marika Tiggemann
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Adelaide and The Flinders University of South AustraliaAustralia

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