subjected animals to electric shock
, providing no way of escape. He then gave those same animals an opportunity to learn a response that would put an end to the shock. Many of the animals were so listless that they wouldn't even attempt to learn the way of escape.
Researchers later conducted a similar experiment on humans in which inescapable noise rather than electric shock was used. Results were parallel. As my lovely psychology textbook puts it, "Learned helplessness is passive behavior produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive events."
Before the experiment was performed using humans, it was thought that such behavior was a result of conditioning. Now it is thought that a human's cognitive interpretation of the adverse events makes them more or less susceptible to developing learned helplessness. When people believe the events are beyond their control, when setbacks are attributed to personal inadequacy rather than the situation, they tend to simply shut down and give up.
This would explain why I have found myself sitting on the bathroom floor in the dark listening to extremely loud music and unable to stir.
Node your homework! It works!