Archive for September 19th, 2012

September 19, 2012

Learned Optimism

Positive psychology

Learned optimism is the idea in positive psychology that a talent for joy, like any other, can be cultivated. It is contrasted with learned helplessness. Learning optimism is done by consciously challenging any negative self talk. The concept was created by psychologist Martin Seligman (who also coined ‘learned helplessness’) and published in his 1990 book, ‘Learned Optimism.’

The benefits of an optimistic outlook are many: Optimists are higher achievers and have better overall health. Pessimism, on the other hand, is much more common. Pessimists are more likely to give up in the face of adversity or to suffer from depression. In his book, Seligman invites pessimists to learn to be optimists by thinking about their reactions to adversity in a new way. The resulting optimism — one that grew from pessimism — is a learned optimism.

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September 19, 2012

Learned Industriousness

hard worker

Learned industriousness is a behaviorally rooted theory developed by Robert Eisenberger to explain the differences in general work effort among people of equivalent ability. According to Eisenberger, individuals who are reinforced for exerting high effort on a task are also secondarily reinforced by the sensation of high effort. Individuals with a history of this high effort reinforcement are more likely to generalize high effort to other behaviors.

This has been supported in the literature across a variety of different experimental settings. An individual is considered industrious if he or she demonstrates perseverance and determination in performing a task. This term has also been used interchangeably with work ethic, which is generally regarded as the attitude that hard work and effort is virtuous. Learned industriousness theory asserts that industriousness is developed over time through a history of reinforcement.

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September 19, 2012

Learned Helplessness


learned helplessness

Learned helplessness is a technical term that refers to the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses may result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation.

Organisms which have been ineffective and less sensitive in determining the consequences of their behavior are defined as having acquired learned helplessness. American psychologist Martin Seligman’s foundational experiments and theory of learned helplessness began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967, as an extension of his interest in depression. Quite by accident, Seligman and colleagues discovered that the conditioning of dogs led to outcomes that opposed the predictions of B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism, then a leading psychological theory.

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September 19, 2012

Low Frustration Tolerance

Explosive child

Proponents of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (a precursor to Cognitive Behavior Therapy) cite a construct or concept they call low frustration tolerance, or ‘short-term hedonism’ in order to partly explain behaviors like procrastination and certain other apparently paradoxical or self-defeating behavior.

It is defined as seeking immediate pleasure or avoidance of pain at the cost of long-term stress and defeatism. The concept was originally developed by psychologist Albert Ellis who theorized that low frustration-tolerance (LFT) is an evaluative component in dysfunctional and irrational beliefs. Behaviors are then derived towards avoiding frustrating events which, paradoxically, lead to increased frustration and even greater mental stress.

September 19, 2012

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Albert Ellis

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), previously called rational therapy, is a form psychotherapy created and developed by the American psychologist Albert Ellis who was inspired by many of the teachings of Asian, Greek, Roman, and modern philosophers. REBT is one form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and was first expounded by Ellis in the mid-1950s; development continued until his death in 2007.

 Originally called ‘rational therapy,’ its appellation was revised to ‘rational emotive therapy’ in 1959, then to its current appellation in 1992. REBT was one of the first of the cognitive behavior therapies, as it was predicated in articles Ellis first published in 1956, nearly a decade before Aaron Beck first set forth his cognitive therapy.

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