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Though learning is a process, the results of learning can be good or bad, depending on the purpose and circumstances. Learning is a process that goes during all human life and it is sustained by memory. In other words, learning is not possible without memory. The memory of past experience helps make a choice that would be or seem to be the best in the situation.
Just like encouragement and positive learning environment enhances the individual’s ability and efficiency, creating stimulus for learning, overcoming, courage, etc, the same way adverse circumstances could trigger depression, anxiety and other “signs” of so called learned helplessness.
Great scientists, such as Pavlov and Watson, were studying behavior and effects of conditioning; they noticed that using classical and instrumental conditioning of the desired behavior can be achieved both in animals as well as in humans. Taking their findings further, Mary Cover Jones studied conditioning of negative responses such as learned fear of rabbits, etc. Thus learning and conditioning became a powerful tool in behavioral therapy.
Studies conducted by Dr Skinner showed how an individual’s behavior is influenced by the circumstance, environment and external events, as opposed of perception of the behavior as a reflection of the internal processes.
Sometimes in the course of choosing how to react a person may feel he has no control over the situation or the circumstance and, therefore, might develop an attitude of helplessness. If this attitude is reinforced, learned hopelessness can be augmented and in some cases may lead to phobias. The lightest consequence of learned hopelessness is that an individual overlooks or does not act on the opportunities for a change presented. Realizing alternatives, helps effect the change of that behavior. In the case of learned helplessness an important factor to keep in mind is that the reason that caused the condition is not as important as the focus on the symptoms and reinforcement of new positive responses. That is what the therapist on the video was doing with the woman suffering phobia. He went out with her and step by step encouraged her and praised her thus encouraging her progress and behavior.
Learned helplessness could have enormous consequence in someone’s life. It can cause fatigue in learning and poor social interaction, extreme shyness, etc. Reinforcement of desired behavior can help these people overcome learned helplessness and consequential problems with due time.