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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

November 25 , 2013 Stress and Coping: The Role of Perceived Control Prologue: What is Perceived Control? An expected relation (or contingency) between responses/behaviours and outcomes (ex: “if you do X, you will achieve outcome Y”) Is perceived control important? Part 1: Control deprivation in animals Dogs in a shuttle-box: (a shuttle box is box divided by two barriers). First dog: Light comes on, then 10 seconds later there is a shock. The dog can escape by going over the barrier. Second dog: the light comes on, the dog stays and accepts the shock. Previously, both dogs were places in harness. The light came on and ten seconds later the shock came. The first dog learned it could control the shock by turning its head either to the left or the right – had no problem learning a response. The second dog learned there was no contingency between the response and the outcomes. When placed in shuttle box, failed to learn there was a response it could make to change the outcome. Prior exposure to the uncontrollable shocks (in harness)  Learned Helplessness Additional findings:  LH occurs in a wide variety of animals  LH generalizes to new situations o E.g., if dog learns in can’t control shock in harness, it later has difficulty learning that I can control whether it gets food  Animals can be “immunized” against LH by providing prior experiences with control (e.g., if control in harness, dog has difficulty learning it can’t control shocks in shuttle box)  A helpless animal can be given “therapy” to eliminate helplessness 9show that is has control over outcomes) Part 2: Learned Helplessness in People A) A typical study: st  1 part: prior experience with uncontrollable (or controllable) events  Observe their performance on new (controllable) task: helplessness? B) Typical results: weak and inconsistent  Control deprivation sometimes inhibits subsequent performance (LH)  Sometimes facilitates performance – LH does not always generalize to new tasks November 25 , 2013 C) A closer look at Learned Helplessness  Uncontrollable event  learned helplessness [not for humans]  Uncontrollable events  generate “attributions” (causal explanations) for the uncontrollable events D) The Attributional Reformulation of Learned Helplessness: Whether we experience LH after uncontrollable event depends on the types of attributions we make “I failed my first math exam” even though they tried to pass. Why? Student 1: “I’m stupid” – implies 3 “causal dimensions”: o Internal (reflects dispositions) o Stable (will persist over time) o Global (generalize to other areas in person’s life)  Cause is stable and global, therefore no expectation of future control (gives up)  Learned Helplessness  Cause is internal, therefore low self-esteem  Pessimistic/Depressive Attributional Style Student 2: “The room was too hot” - Cause is: o External (stems from environments) o Unstable (won’t persist over time) o Specific (won’t generalize to other areas of life)  Unstable and specific  no helplessness; person should expect future control  External  no loss in self-esteem  Optimistic Explanatory Style Part 3: Perceived Control and Reactions to Physical Illness Perceived Control facilitates coping A) Correlational studies: 1. “Primary Control” (control over the illness)  Coronary heart disease  Bre
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