An Examination of Learned Helplessness Among Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disordered Boys


We employed a learned helplessness paradigm to compare the performance of 23 boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a comparable group of 22 nonreferred boys. The boys attempted to solve two different sets of 10 find-a-word puzzles, one set following exposure to solvable puzzles, and one set following exposure to insolvable puzzles. Results revealed that the ADHD boys solved significantly fewer puzzles than did the control boys. In addition, the ADHD boys gave up on significantly more puzzles, and this was especially true following the insolvable condition when it occurred during the second set of puzzles. The ADHD boys also reported being more frustrated by the task than were the control boys. Finally, among the control boys, support was obtained for Diener and Dweck''s (1978) distinction between mastery-oriented and helpless children. However, this distinction did not appear to operate in the same fashion for the ADHD boys.

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