Martin E.P. Seligman
University of Pennsylvania
The Association for Psychological Science names Martin E.P. Seligman as a James McKeen Cattell Fellow in recognition of his creative pursuit of the ramifications of learned helplessness.
Seligman discovered this phenomenon in the animal laboratory when animals exposed to uncontrollable situations became unmotivated to learn. He not only examined the physiological and experiential basis for this syndrome, but also recognized its implications for the origins of successful and unsuccessful coping patterns, for health and illness, for behavior and beliefs, and for individuals and the societies in which they life. If helplessness could be learned, it could be prevented and cured y acquiring a more flexible and optimistic belief system. These insights led to a rigorous and wide ranging line of empirical research.
Because his theoretical analyses and empirical work bridge the laboratory, the clinic, the nursery, and the work place, they touch every facet of psychology. Thus his scientific career exemplifies the accomplishments the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award was designed to recognize.