It seems natural for people to blame their own

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It seems natural for people to blame their own misfortunes on the environment. It seems equally natural to blame other people s misfortunes on their personalities. Just the opposite attribution, by the way, is made when things go well. When things go right, people credit their own abilities and intelligence. The onlookers do the reverse. When they see things go well for someone else, they sometimes credit the environment, or luck. In all such cases, whether a person is inappropriately accepting blame for the inability to work simple objects or attributing behavior to environment or personality, a faulty conceptual model is at work. LEARNED HELPLESSNESS The phenomenon called learned helplessness might help explain the self-blame. It refers to the situation in which people experience repeated failure at a task. As a result, they decide that the task cannot be done, at least not by them: they are helpless. They stop trying. If this feeling covers a group of tasks, the result can be severe difficulties coping with life. In the extreme case, such learned helplessness leads to depression and to a belief that the individuals cannot cope with everyday life at all. Sometimes all it takes to get such a feeling of helplessness are a few experiences that accidentally turn out bad. The phenomenon has been most frequently studied as a precursor to the clinical problem of depression, but I have seen it happen after a few bad experiences with everyday objects. Do common technology and mathematics phobias result from a kind of learned helplessness? Could a few instances of failure two: The Psychology of Everyday Actions 63 in what appear to be straightforward situations generalize to every technological object, every mathematics problem? Perhaps. In fact, the design of everyday things (and the design of mathematics courses) seems almost guaranteed to cause this. We could call this phenomenon taught helplessness. When people have trouble using technology, especially when
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they perceive (usually incorrectly) that nobody else is having the same problems, they tend to blame themselves. Worse, the more they have trouble, the more helpless they may feel, believing that they must be technically or mechanically inept. This is just the opposite of the more normal situation where people blame their own difficulties on the environment. This false blame is especially ironic because the culprit here is usually the poor design of the technology, so blaming the environment (the technology) would be completely appropriate. Consider the normal mathematics curriculum, which continues relentlessly on its way, each new lesson assuming full knowledge and understanding of all that has passed before. Even though each point may be simple, once you fall behind it is hard to catch up.
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