In 1978, the original learned helplessness model was critiqued and reformulated by Abramson, Seligman, and Teasdale. Using attributional theory, the reformulation postulated that causal attributions mediate the effects of helplessness according to three dimensions: internal-external, global-specific, and stable-unstable. The present study was a multidimensional test of the reformulation. Ninety-six subjects were administered identical pretreatments of unsolvable puzzles, and given different reasons for their failure. A later test of solvable anagrams measured cognitive and motivational deficits of helplessness from the pretreatment. Global subjects solved fewer problems than specific subjects. Subjects who were both global and stable solved fewer problems in the test phase than other subjects. The results supported the global-specific dimension and the two-way interaction between the global-specific and the stable-unstable dimensions. The authors conclude that further investigation should elucidate the stable-unstable dimension (perseveration of helplessness deficits over time).
Kenneth Anderson, Richard Anderson, Donovan Fleming & Edward Kinghorn,
A multidimensional test of the attributional reformulation of learned helplessness,
Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/facsch_lawrev/1884