Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Effectiveness of a Psycho-Education Program on Learned Helplessness and Irrational Beliefs*

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Effectiveness of a Psycho-Education Program on Learned Helplessness and Irrational Beliefs*

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a psycho-education program aimed at reducing learned helplessness and irrational beliefs of eight-grade elementary students. The study was an experimental study based on the pre-test-post-test model with control and placebo group. A total of 27 participants, 9 group members in each group, participated in the study. Irrational Beliefs Scale and Attribution Style Questionnaire for Children were used to gather data. The psycho-education program based on cognitive behavioral therapy developed by researchers had been carried out with the experimental group for ten weeks, while a group guidance program focusing on problems in adolescence was run with the placebo group for four weeks. No procedure was applied to the control group. Group comparisons were investigated by two-way ANOVA for repeated measures. According to the results of analysis, there were no significant differences among three groups regarding learned helplessness and irrational beliefs scores, while there was a significant difference between pre-test and post-test scores of the experimental group with regard to irrational scores. The results of the study exhibited that the psycho-education program was effective in decreasing irrational beliefs, but not effective in decreasing learned helplessness of the participants.

Key Words

Learned Helplessness, Irrational Beliefs, Learned Optimism, Psycho-education.

Educational systems aim to support students' development in not only cognitive aspects, but behavioral and emotional aspects. Ones all aspects effect each other in a mutual way. For instance, academic failure may turn out to be a psychological problem leading to low self-efficacy beliefs and some behavioral problems (Clanton Harpine, 2008). Learned helplessness affecting students emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally and emotionally is one of the causes of academic failure (Sutherland & Singh, 2004). Learned helplessness as a term was first introduced by M. E. P. Seligman to psychology literature after a series of experiments in which learned helplessness in dogs was induced by shock (Seligman, 1972; Seligman & Maier, 1967). Seligman (1975) identified learned helplessness as a reaction caused by lack of motivation or movement. According to Seligman, learned helplessness is brought about when individuals believe that their reaction have no influence on a happening or event. He states that learned helplessness causes damage to one by leading one to quit rather than trying hard, to procrastinate things and to experience some emotional problems such as depression or anxiety (cited in Sutherland & Singh, 2004).

In later years, learned helplessness theory of Seligman was revisited and combined with attribution theory of Weiner. Causality (internal/ external) and stability (stable/unstable) dimensions of Weiner were added to Seligmans universality (general/specific) term (Canino, 1981). When an unfortunate event happened, individuals who give up easily tend to attribute to constant causes, whereas others who insist tend to attribute to unstable causes. Those who make universal explanations for their failures tend to quit everything when they face a failure in an area, while individuals who provide specific explanations for their failures may feel helpless in a specific area, but keep moving in other areas. Individuals blaming themselves as they fail feel themselves worthless, flawed or unlovable (Seligman, 2007). However, learned helplessness differs from attribution theory in three aspects. First, learned helplessness theory focuses on explanatory tendency rather than an explanation over a failure. Second, Seligman expanded the theory by adding universality dimension to stability and causality dimensions. Lastly, Seligman paid attention to emotional problems and their treatment while Weiner solely focused on success (Seligman, 2007).

Traditional view about academic achievement defined ability and motivation as two decisive dimensions of school success. …

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