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Human Reactions to Uncontrollable Outcomes: Further Evidence for Superstitions Rather Than Helplessness

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Abstract

Recent research has shown superstitious behaviour and illusion of control in human subjects exposed to the negative reinforcement conditions that are traditionally assumed to lead to the opposite outcome (i.e. learned helplessness). The experiments reported in this paper test the generality of these effects in two different tasks and under different conditions of percentage (75% vs. 25%) and distribution (random vs. last-trials) of negative reinforcement (escape from uncontrollable noise). All three experiments obtained superstitious behaviour and illusion of control and question the generality of learned helplessness as a consequence of exposing humans to uncontrollable outcomes.
... Only a few experiments have conducted this type of manipulation (Ejova et al., 2013;Langer and Roth, 1975;Matute, 1995). Ejova et al. (2013) reported a study in which participants predicted the outcome of a sequence of shots in a soccer-simulation game presented as a gambling activity, similar to a slot-machine. ...
... That is, the probability of the outcome, P(O), increased during the experiment. Consistent with previous findings (Matute, 1995), participants were more likely to overestimate their ability to predict the outcomes in the "ascending" condition than in a "descending" condition (which showed the opposite progression, with fewer correctly predicted outcomes at the end of the sequence), even though both conditions presented exactly the same total number of right and wrong predictions. ...
... When perceiving the effectiveness of a treatment, the experience of increasing probabilities of symptom relief can be highly relevant, because it seemingly indicates an improvement of health condition. As self-limited diseases evolve favorably even without treatment, they imply the presentation of outcomes (i.e., symptomatic relief) with increasing probabilities, in a similar way to the contingency-learning experiments described above (Ejova Running head: PERCEIVING TREATMENT EFFECTIVENESS 4 et al., 2013;Langer and Roth, 1975;Matute, 1995). If increasing patterns of P(O) lead to stronger overestimation of causality (and hence of effectiveness), even when the treatment is completely useless, then patients who treat a self-limited disease with a pseudotherapy could develop an illusory belief of effectiveness, because they would incorrectly attribute the improvement in symptoms to the effect of the treatment, rather than to the natural course of the disease. ...
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Rationale Self-limited diseases resolve spontaneously without treatment or intervention. From the patient's viewpoint, this means experiencing an improvement of the symptoms with increasing probability over time. Previous studies suggest that the observation of this pattern could foster illusory beliefs of effectiveness, even if the treatment is completely ineffective. Therefore, self-limited diseases could provide an opportunity for pseudotherapies to appear as if they were effective. Objective In three computer-based experiments, we investigate how the beliefs of effectiveness of a pseudotherapy form and change when the disease disappears gradually regardless of the intervention. Methods Participants played the role of patients suffering from a fictitious disease, who were being treated with a fictitious medicine. The medicine was completely ineffective, because symptom occurrence was uncorrelated to medicine intake. However, in one of the groups the trials were arranged so that symptoms were less likely to appear at the end of the session, mimicking the experience of a self-limited disease. Except for this difference, both groups received similar information concerning treatment effectiveness. Results In Experiments 1 and 2, when the disease disappeared progressively during the session, the completely ineffective medicine was judged as more effective than when the same information was presented in a random fashion. Experiment 3 extended this finding to a new situation in which symptom improvement was also observed before the treatment started. Conclusions We conclude that self-limited diseases can produce strong overestimations of effectiveness for treatments that actually produce no effect. This has practical implications for preventative and primary health services. The data and materials that support these experiments are freely available at the Open Science Framework (https://bit.ly/2FMPrMi)
... In studying the mechanisms that prevented learned helplessness and behavior extinction, Matute (1994Matute ( , 1995 used Hiroto and Seligman's paradigm to demonstrate that if the feedback light was suppressed, individuals developed superstitious behaviors and illusion of control instead of learned helplessness (Matute 1994(Matute , 1995. However, these studies introduced an analytical element by asking participants to stop the aversive noise by finding a code of two numbers out of three possible digits that could stop it, calling it a response-outcome analytical test (ROAT). ...
... In studying the mechanisms that prevented learned helplessness and behavior extinction, Matute (1994Matute ( , 1995 used Hiroto and Seligman's paradigm to demonstrate that if the feedback light was suppressed, individuals developed superstitious behaviors and illusion of control instead of learned helplessness (Matute 1994(Matute , 1995. However, these studies introduced an analytical element by asking participants to stop the aversive noise by finding a code of two numbers out of three possible digits that could stop it, calling it a response-outcome analytical test (ROAT). ...
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Gambling Disorder (GD) is characterized by persistent betting even in face of accruing debts and psychosocial hardship. Gambling Disorder behavior has been linked to conditioning, cognitive distortions and superstitious behavior. Previous studies have demonstrated that during response-outcome analytical tests (ROAT), non-gambling individuals are precluded from response extinction when failure feedback is suppressed, and develop superstitious behaviors and illusion of control instead. Gambling can be regarded as a ROAT paradigm in which disordered gamblers (DGs) fail to compute failure feedback; hence they do not perceive the independence between response and outcome. In order to investigate early phenomena on response and outcome processing in DGs, we developed two short ROAT versions, one with a controllable outcome and one with an uncontrollable outcome, both with explicit failure feedback. Twenty DGs and twenty healthy controls were assessed using this novel paradigm. Compared to controls, DGs reported higher distress during the controllable ROAT, less self-confidence in the uncontrollable ROAT, and more random responses and less use of analytical strategies in both tests, evidencing potential deficits in cognitive control. In contrast to previous findings, DGs did not demonstrate more superstitious beliefs, or illusion of control, and were generally more skeptical than controls regarding the controllability of both ROAT versions. Taken together, our findings provide some support for deficits in cognitive control in GD that precede illusion of control and superstitious behaviors.
... The illusion of control (IOC) is a well-documented heuristic or bias that refers to a subjective over-estimation of control in situations involving individual action (Langer, 1975;Thompson et al., 1998). In formal operant learning theory, the IOC is similar to the notion of false contingency (Alloy & Abramson, 1979;Blanco et al., 2011;Matute, 1995Matute, , 1996Wasserman et al., 1993). This bias is also said to occur when people believe that the probability of outcomes resulting from their actions (P (O| R)) is greater than the objective probability. ...
... The IOC has been extensively studied in laboratory environments (e.g., Ejova et al., 2015;Matute, 1995Matute, , 1996Wohl & Enzle, 2002;Yarritu et al., 2014) and also in applied contexts. In laboratory research, much of the principal focus has been upon finding effective ways to capture the effect; understanding the role of individual differences, and whether there are situational factors that make the effect more likely to occur. ...
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People who engage in gambling are known to hold erroneous views about the nature of gambling. One of the most commonly observed cognitive biases is the illusion of control, where people’s subjective appraisal of contingency between behavior and events is greater than the objective contingency. Such beliefs have been found to be strongest in problem gamblers and can lead to over-confidence in the ability to win money from gambling. A question, however, is whether such perceptions are (a) specific to gambling and whether gamblers display a tendency to over-estimate contingencies in everyday life and (b) if a tendency to endorse everyday illusion of control beliefs is related to specific gambling-related beliefs among those who gamble. Answers to these questions might provide insights into whether some people are potentially more vulnerable to beliefs that might have implications for gambling. An online sample of 788 adults completed a survey about simple everyday situations where people might attempt to exert control (e.g., pressing elevator buttons more often, throwing dice in games). The survey included a scale that captured everyday situations as well as established measures of illusion of control and superstition in gambling. The results showed that those who report greater control in everyday tasks scored higher on standardized measures of beliefs about chance and gambling-related cognitions relating to illusory control. Scores on both types of measures were higher in gamblers than non-gamblers. The findings suggest that gamblers may differ in how they generally perceive and respond to situations involving tasks largely dominated by chance or limited opportunities for genuine control.
... To give an example, if a student thinks that s/he is successful thanks to the pencil that s/he has used that day, s/he may have a tendency to use this pencil in every exam s/he sits for. Or if a person thinks that bad things occur to him/her because of the clothes s/he is wearing that day, s/he may have a tendency not to wear those clothes again (Ayhan and Yarar 2005;Matute 1995). ...
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Superstitions have existed from the primeval era until now and give shape to human behaviors. These beliefs arise out of some socio-cultural, socioeconomic , and psychological factors that affect people in different ways in terms of their age, education and cultural gains. Keeping this in mind, it is aimed to search superstitious beliefs of academicians, the relation between their tendency to these believes and some socio-demographic features and how the cultural environment affects their point of view in this paper.
... Parmi les facteurs situationnels associés à la contrôlabilité (Piper & Langer, 1986) et influençant la force de l'illusion de contrôle (Presson & Benassi, 1996), le choix, l'engagement et la séquence de résultat ont retenu notre attention. La manipulation expérimentale du choixversus non choixdu ticket de loterie (Langer, 1975) (Langer & Roth, 1975 Matute, 1995). ...
Thesis
Si près d’un français sur deux joue au moins une fois par an, on remarque spécifiquement, entre 2010 et 2014, une augmentation de 11,5% du nombre de joueurs parmi les 45-75 ans (Observatoire Des Jeux [ODJ], 2015). Les aînés de 55 à 64 ans sont d’ailleurs les premiers consommateurs de jeux de hasard et d’argent (Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques [INSEE], 2016). Peu d’auteurs ont toutefois investigué la question du vieillissement des joueurs dans les JHA, impliquant un manque de données empiriques conséquent (Tse et al., 2012). Pourtant, les jeux de hasard et d’argent (JHA) font l’objet d’un domaine d’étude qui connaît un essor important depuis les années 2000. En plus d'une grande quantité de travaux sur la population générale, de nombreuses recherches ont porté sur les adolescents et les jeunes, considérés comme une population vulnérable (Kairouz et al., 2013). Vulnérables eux aussi (Subramaniam et al. 2015 ; Tse et al. 2012 ; Wainstein et al. 2008), les aînés constituent une population préoccupante en raison de leur exposition à la fois à des offres de jeu de plus en plus abondantes et à de puissants facteurs de risque spécifiques à l'âge. En l’absence de référents théoriques permettant d’appréhender le renouvellement des conduites de jeu des aînés, deux facteurs déterminants ont été convoqués dans cette thèse : l’illusion de contrôle et la prise de risque. Concept polysémique, l'illusion de contrôle demeure à ce jour encore discutable, en termes de définition et de mesure, malgré le grand nombre d’études l’ayant examiné (Masuda, Sakagami, & Hirota, 2002). Cette thèse a ainsi poursuivi un double objectif : élaborer et valider une échelle multidimensionnelle de l’illusion de contrôle dont le format matriciel (Bonnel, 2016) met en exergue les valences affectives positives et négatives ; identifier les mécanismes cognitifs spécifiques à l'âge qui sous-tendent le comportement de jeu dans le vieillissement normal. Les perspectives temporelles (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999) constituant par ailleurs un bon indicateur des comportements à risque dans un certain nombre de domaines (e.g., santé, environnement), les relations entre âge, perspectives temporelles (PT), illusion de contrôle et prise de risque ont été interrogées. Au bilan, les résultats suggèrent que les aînés constituent une population spécifique en termes de cognitions et de comportements liés au jeu, sous certaines conditions. L'inclusion des PT dans les évaluations des comportements à risque permettrait de développer des mesures préventives sur mesure, destinées à empêcher ou diminuer le risque que les aînés développent un problème de jeu, dont les conséquences sont plus délétères pour cette population.
... However, another study (Ejova et al., 2013) found a stronger illusion of control in an ascending condition (first losses then gains), which the authors attributed to a false impression of learning an appropriate strategy. An increasing success rate, although objectively independent of the individual's actions, may indeed lead gamblers to believe that they have learned a strategy to control the uncontrollable (Matute, 1995). These contradictory findings may arise from a measurement problem identified by Langer (1975). ...
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Seniors are a population of concern due to exposure to both increasing gambling venues and powerful age-specific risk factors. There has been only limited research on this population so far, but studies conducted among younger adults suggest that the illusion of control is a key factor, leading players to develop strategies that increase their risk-taking in gambling. Time perspective (TP) is a good indicator of risky behaviours in a number of different areas, including health and the environment. In the present study, we sought to identify the age-specific cognitive mechanisms underlying gambling behaviour in normal ageing. We asked 115 emerging adults (mean age = 20.86 years), 86 young adults (mean age = 30.59), 82 middle-aged adults (mean age = 44.57) and 108 seniors (mean age = 65.19) to play an online game. We rated their illusion of control, risk-taking and TP. Analysis revealed that seniors took more risks and had less illusion of control than younger adults. The fatalistic-present TP positively influenced the illusion of control, such that perceiving the present as being determined by uncontrollable forces increased the perceived level of control. Finally, we found an influence of age on TP. These results suggest that seniors constitute a specific population in terms of gambling-related cognitions and behaviours. Including TP in risky behaviour assessments would allow the development of tailor-made preventive measures.
... Souvent, dans les jeux, on considère que la confusion dans la nature du jeu, à savoir l'incapacité à différencier les éléments qui relèvent de l'adresse ou du hasard dans le jeu, conduit à l'illusion de contrôle (Langer, 1975). Les caractéristiques du jeu suggérant au joueur qu'il existe un lien de causalité entre ses actions et le résultat du jeu font, ainsi, paraître les éléments qui relèvent du hasard comme relevant de l'habileté du joueur (Matute, 1995). Ainsi, dans un jeu d'adresse, si l'on demande au joueur de choisir entre différentes options, c'est que ce choix aura une influence sur le résultat du jeu. ...
Thesis
Dans les jeux de hasard et d’argent (JHA), l’individu est exposé à au moins deux paradoxes. Le premier paradoxe est relatif au contrôle : d’une part, le joueur croit pouvoir contrôler le jeu en vue d’augmenter ses chances de gain (illusion de contrôle) et, d’autre part, il a tendance à perdre le contrôle de ses impulsions. Pour jouer sans risque, le joueur devrait donc jouer de manière contrôlée mais sans tenter de contrôler le jeu. Le second paradoxe réside dans le besoin, pour les opérateurs de jeu, de commercialiser les jeux tout en cherchant à prévenir les risques liés aux JHA. Ils doivent, notamment, aider le joueur à garder le contrôle de ses impulsions. A cette fin, les opérateurs de jeu utilisent des messages de prévention promouvant le Jeu Responsable (p. ex. « Pour que le jeu reste un jeu »). Selon nous, ces messages pourraient être ambigus et véhiculer des intentions promotionnelles au joueur, plutôt que préventives. Le but de cette thèse est alors d’examiner la compréhension des messages promouvant le Jeu Responsable. Nous étudions l’ambiguïté de leur contenu sémantique ainsi que l’influence de facteurs extrinsèques au message (i.e. les caractéristiques de la source et du récepteur) sur la compréhension du message. Quatre expériences ont été conduites en ligne auprès de 1438 participants. Les résultats de ces études montrent que les messages de prévention promouvant le Jeu Responsable agissent comme une injonction paradoxale : ils sont ambigus (Expérience 1) et peuvent être compris à la fois comme des messages de prévention et des messages de promotion du jeu (Expérience 2). En situation réelle de jeu, ces messages augmentent la prise de risque du joueur par rapport à des messages informatifs clairs (Expérience 3). De plus, nous avons montré que les messages de prévention, qu’ils soient clairs ou ambigus, sont mieux compris lorsque le message est perçu comme provenant du gouvernement plutôt que d’un opérateur de jeu et lorsque la crédibilité de la source est élevée. En revanche, les attitudes et la familiarité des joueurs avec le jeu ou leur niveau de risque de jeu pathologique n’influencent pas la compréhension du message dans notre échantillon (Expérience 4). Cette thèse montre que les messages actuellement utilisés par les opérateurs de jeu ne sont pas adaptés pour prévenir du jeu excessif. Notre travail contribue donc à l’amélioration des stratégies de communication préventive des opérateurs de jeux et des gouvernements. Version intégrale disponible ici : https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-03233558
... Otros esfuerzos han mostrado posibles explicaciones alternativas al caso del desamparo aprendido en humanos, concretamente Matute (1993Matute ( , 1995 ha intentado vincular el caso de la conducta supersticiosa (el sujeto emite una conducta que de manera accidental se muestra contingente con el reforzador) y la ilusión de control. El estímulo aversivo utilizado en este caso fue el ruido, que de hecho puede considerarse el más común en los estudios con humanos. ...
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La sociedad en la que nos encontramos insertos se caracteriza por transformaciones constantes de los paradigmas que buscan explicarla y las relaciones que la conforman. La generación de nuevas tecnologías y nuevas formas de comunicación, la diversificación de nuevos modelos de relaciones económicas y sociales para hacer frente a la precariedad creciente, la violencia generalizada, entre otros tantos factores, posibilitan nuevos entornos y concepciones sobre el mundo que transforman y alteran la estructuración social completa
... First, Friedland et al. [59] showed that when participants faced a choice between predicting or postdicting an outcome of a die roll, stressed participants more often chose prediction so as to influence the die roll. Second, anxiogenic situations provoke the use of various superstitious actions or lucky charms [60,61], especially when the stakes are high [25]. Finally, priming participants with randomness or low-control anxiogenic situations strengthened belief in powerful deities, [62][63][64] and previous research [60] showed that the presence of religious icons increases the perception of ritual efficacy. ...
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While the occurrence of rituals in anxiogenic contexts has been long noted and supported by ethnographic, quantitative and experimental studies, the purported effects of ritual behaviour on anxiety reduction have rarely been examined. In the present study, we investigate the anxiolytic effects of religious practices among the Marathi Hindu community in Mauritius and test whether these effects are facilitated by the degree of ritualization present in these practices. Seventy-five participants first experienced anxiety induction through the public speaking paradigm and were subsequently asked to either perform their habitual ritual in a local temple (ritual condition) or sit and relax (control condition). The results revealed that participants in the ritual condition reported lower perceived anxiety after the ritual treatment and displayed lower physiological anxiety, which was assessed as heart-rate variability. The degree of ritualization in the ritual condition showed suggestive albeit variable effects, and thus further investigation is needed. We conclude the paper with a discussion of various mechanisms that may facilitate the observed anxiolytic effects of ritual behaviour and should be investigated in the future. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Ritual renaissance: new insights into the most human of behaviours’.
... provide comfort in uncontrollable and threatening situations (Kay et al., 2008;Lazar, 2015;Pieper et al., 2018;Sosis & Handwerker, 2011) and, on the lower mechanistic levels, may be deemed efficacious through magical thinking (Friedland et al., 1992;Lewis & Breslin, 2015) and spurious associations (Fessler, 2006;Matute, 1995;Rudski & Edwards, 2007). On yet a lower level, prayer and similar rituals may be effective due to their specific repetitive and rigid form. ...
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The present article is an elaborated and upgraded version of the Early Career Award talk that I delivered at the IAPR 2019 conference in Gdańsk, Poland. In line with the conference’s thematic focus on new trends and neglected themes in psychology of religion, I argue that psychology of religion should strive for firmer integration with evolutionary theory and its associated methodological toolkit. Employing evolutionary theory enables to systematize findings from individual psychological studies within a broader framework that could resolve lingering empirical contradictions by providing an ultimate rationale for which results should be expected. The benefits of evolutionary analysis are illustrated through the study of collective rituals and, specifically, their purported function in stabilizing risky collective action. By comparing the socio-ecological pressures faced by chimpanzees, contemporary hunter-gatherers, and early Homo, I outline the selective pressures that may have led to the evolution of collective rituals in the hominin lineage, and, based on these selective pressures, I make predictions regarding the different functions and their underlying mechanisms that collective rituals should possess. While examining these functions, I echo the Early Career Award and focus mostly on my past work and the work of my collaborators, showing that collective rituals may stabilize risky collective action by increasing social bonding, affording to assort cooperative individuals, and providing a platform for reliable communication of commitment to group norms. The article closes with a discussion of the role that belief in superhuman agents plays in stabilizing and enhancing the effects of collective rituals on trust-based cooperation.
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People often perform poorly on tasks following experience with unsolvable problems. The current experiment tested 2 competing explanations (learned helplessness and egotism) for this performance deficit. 40 college students were given either solvable or unsolvable discrimination problems and then a series of anagrams that were alleged to be either highly or moderately difficult. Ss previously given unsolvable problems did better on the anagrams when led to believe that the anagrams were highly difficult than when led to believe that the anagrams were moderately difficult. This result is contrary to a learned helplessness theory interpretation, which attributes performance deficits following unsolvable problems to the belief that outcomes are independent of responses. Instead, this result supports an egotism explanation, which maintains that people are not likely to try hard on a task following experience with unsolvable problems (i.e., following failure), unless a poor performance would not pose a further threat to their self-esteem. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Argues that individuals influence the amount of control they subjectively experience by means of their own actions. A review of the empirical evidence shows that (a) systematic interindividual differences exist in probability of action, implying that action can affect control judgments across a wide range of situations; and (b) the action–outcome data used in making control judgments are best described as confirming and disconfirming cases, implying that subjective control experience consists mainly of conjoint probability information. Simple probability theory leads to the conclusion that probability of action contributes to subjective control experience by directly affecting the probability of confirming and disconfirming cases. Implications are discussed in relation to individual difference and task factor determinants of control beliefs, discrepancies between control beliefs and objective conditions, and stability and development of control beliefs across the life span. (99 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This chapter discusses that experimental psychology is no longer a unified field of scholarship. The most obvious sign of disintegration is the division of the Journal of Experimental Psychology into specialized periodicals. Many forces propel this fractionation. First, the explosion of interest in many small spheres of inquiry has made it extremely difficult for an individual to master more than one. Second, the recent popularity of interdisciplinary research has lured many workers away from the central issues of experimental psychology. Third, there is a growing division between researchers of human and animal behavior; this division has been primarily driven by contemporary cognitive psychologists, who see little reason to refer to the behavior of animals or to inquire into the generality of behavioral principles. The chapter considers the study of causal perception. This area is certainly at the core of experimental psychology. Although recent research in animal cognition has taken the tack of bringing human paradigms into the animal laboratory, the experimental research is described has adopted the reverse strategy of bringing animal paradigms into the human laboratory. A further unfortunate fact is that today's experimental psychologists are receiving little or no training in the history and philosophy of psychology. This neglected aspect means that investigations of a problem area are often undertaken without a full understanding of the analytical issues that would help guide empirical inquiry.
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Reviews the literature which examined the effects of exposing organisms to aversive events which they cannot control. Motivational, cognitive, and emotional effects of uncontrollability are examined. It is hypothesized that when events are uncontrollable the organism learns that its behavior and outcomes are independent, and this learning produces the motivational, cognitive, and emotional effects of uncontrollability. Research which supports this learned helplessness hypothesis is described along with alternative hypotheses which have been offered as explanations of the learned helplessness effect. The application of this hypothesis to rats and man is examined. (114 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Three experiments, with a total of 112 male albino Holtzman rats, explored whether inescapable shock of long duration and moderate intensity (LoShk) produces an avoidance-escape deficit (interference effect) by causing animals to learn to respond less actively or by causing them to learn to be "helpless." Exp I shows that if Ss given LoShk were subsequently tested in an avoidance-escape "nosing" response that required little motor activity, they learned and performed better than no-shock controls. Exp II verified that the same LoShk treatment that led to this better performance would indeed interfere with subsequent avoidance-escape acquisition in those test situations that have previously been used to demonstrate the interference effect, that is, the 3-response leverpress, 2-response shuttle, and single-response barrier jump. In Exp III, using triplets in the classical avoidance-escape, yoked, and control animal paradigm, it was shown that yoked Ss performed more poorly than either avoidance-escape or control Ss on a subsequent 3-response leverpress task but performed better on the nosing avoidance-escape task. Results are compatible with the idea that animals acquire the tendency to be inactive as a result of exposure to long-duration, moderate-intensity, inescapable shock. Results are incompatible with the idea that animals learn "helplessness." (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Notes that learned helplessness-the interference with instrumental responding following inescapable aversive events-has been found in animals and man. The present study tested for the generality of the debilitation produced by uncontrollable events across tasks and motivational systems. 4 experiments with a total of 96 college students were simultaneously conducted: (a) pretreatment with inescapable, escapable, or control aversive tone followed by shuttlebox escape testing; (b) pretreatment with insoluble, soluble, or control discrimination problems followed by anagram solution testing; (c) pretreatments with inescapable, escapable, or control aversive tone followed by anagram solution testing; and (d) pretreatments with insoluble, soluble, or control discrimination problems followed by shuttlebox escape testing. Learned helplessness was found with all 4 experiments: Both insolubility and inescapability produced failure to escape and failure to solve anagrams. It is suggested that inescapability and insolubility both engendered expectancies that responding is independent of reinforcement. The generality of this process suggests that learned helplessness may be an induced "trait." (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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If animals receive inescapable electric shocks, their subsequent avoidance-escape learning is poor. This phenomenon, which can be called the interference effect, was studied in 4 experiments with a total of 133 male albino Holtzman rats. Exp I demonstrated that, depending on the parameters of the inescapable shock used, there exists a transitory effect and a separable, more permanent, long-term interference effect. Exps II and III investigated the long-term effect, showing that it (a) required inescapable shocks of at least 5 sec in order to develop and (b) was still evident 1 wk after such shock. It is suggested that, whereas the transient effect is produced by a short-lived neurochemical change, the long-term effect is mediated by a learned response. Consistent with this differentiation, Exp IV showed that the interference effect measured 30 min after inescapable shock did not occur when Ss had been repeatedly exposed to the type of inescapable shock that produced the transitory effect, whereas the interference effect measured 72 hrs after shock became more pronounced when Ss had been repeatedly exposed to the type of inescapable shock that produced the long-term deficit. Aspects of the data suggest that learned helplessness is not the basis of the long-term interference phenomenon. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Conducted a series of 6 studies involving 631 adults to elucidate the "illusion of control" phenomenon, defined as an expectancy of a personal success probability inappropriately higher than the objective probability would warrant. It was predicted that factors from skill situations (competition, choice, familiarity, involvement) introduced into chance situations would cause Ss to feel inappropriately confident. In Study 1 Ss cut cards against either a confident or a nervous competitor; in Study 2 lottery participants were or were not given a choice of ticket; in Study 3 lottery participants were or were not given a choice of either familiar or unfamiliar lottery tickets; in Study 4, Ss in a novel chance game either had or did not have practice and responded either by themselves or by proxy; in Study 5 lottery participants at a racetrack were asked their confidence at different times; finally, in Study 6 lottery participants either received a single 3-digit ticket or 1 digit on each of 3 days. Indicators of confidence in all 6 studies supported the prediction. (38 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)