Commentary: Extending the Learned Helplessness Paradigm: A Critique of Schulman's "Learned Optimism"

Sujan, Harish
January 1999
Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management;Winter99, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p39
Academic Journal
The learned optimism paradigm, described by Schulman (earlier in this volume), suggests that teaching salespeople to dispute internal, stable or global attributions for their failures improves their expectancy for success, and consequently helps performance and reduces turnover. In parallel, teaching salespeople to dispute external, unstable or specific attributions for their successes improves salespeople's expectations and performance and alleviates turnover. Acknowledging the enormous practical value of this paradigm, I suggest improvements. Specifically, that locus of causality (internal versus external) need not be disputed, that disputing the stable nature of attributions is more effective than disputing the global nature of attributions, and that emotional therapy can, quite powerfully, supplement attribution therapy in improving salespeople's performance and happiness and reducing their turnover.


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