An examination of learned helpless responses among children engaged in physical tasks

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify whether very young children in the physical domain exhibit patterns of helplessness in response to failure. A total of 55 British children (27 girls, 28 boys) ages 5 to 7 years (M = 5.38, SD = .65) first succeeded at an age-appropriate throwing task. Perceptions of ability were assessed and then the children performed two throwing tasks at which they experienced failure. A success trial then followed; the children’s general level of affect was measured. After engaging in the two unachievable tasks, the children’s task-specific expectations for future success and their perceived physical/sport ability were evaluated. Finally, the children’s tendency to seek or avoid challenge was assessed and their perceived physical/sports ability and affect were reassessed. The failure manipulation was found to be effective. However, in terms of expectations, affect, task choice, or behavior, the learned-helplessness pattern was not evident in this sample.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Volume24
Publication statusPublished - 2002