Talk:Martin Seligman

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Animal cruelty[edit]

Why is it not allowed to state the FACT that Seligman tortured animals in his experiments? Is it also forbidden to say Ted Bundy was a murderer?

Allegation of "learned helplessness" connection to development of torture techniques[edit]

Many, for whatever reason, are misquoting Meyer's book. Seligman's theory of "learned helplessness" was used by those who developed torture techniques, but a statement was added to the article claiming that Meyer's book alleges that Seligman "assisted" in the process. The source for this statement was the web site The Daily Dish. That very same web site also says the following: "Psychologist Marty Seligman has objected to the notion that he 'assisted' the torture program of the president in Gitmo and throughout the war on terror. Jane Mayer never actually used that word others have in describing Mayer's book." Unless we have a much more well-documented connection, Wikipedia should steer clear of libel. -DoctorW 00:33, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

These comments seem to apply to the first deleted block of text, regarding the Andrew Sullivan article, but not to the second deleted block, which discusses the Harper's article, which contains verbatim material from Mayer. I will re-add a cleaned up version of the latter, sticking strictly to factual material. This is important material and shouldn't just be lost. Mkcmkc (talk) 03:11, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I removed this section for a few reasons. First, a single article is not sufficiently noteworthy to receive such attention in this section. Additionally, the content of that paragraph was highly inflammatory without appropriate basis in fact. Seligman's use of animals in testing is totally normal in science and in psychology. He was studying an observed phenomenon to determine how it might be treated, not for the purposes of inducing depression as an end, but for resisting it -- the exact nature of the contract in question. Seligman is widely respected as a psychologist and his research is widely respected. Evidence for this is readily available even in this same article -- dedicating such a portion of his entry to speculative claims by a single source would be a travesty. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:14, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— A small point re the phrase in this paragraph that the "conditioning of dogs led to outcomes that were opposite to the predictions of B.F. Skinner's behaviorism, ..." Having reviewed the Wikipedia entry for Learned Helplessness, and given my extensive study of Skinner's work, I don't think this is accurate. It implies that a severe problem was discovered in the theory of Operant Conditioning. I don't think any such idea was asserted in the original work, and such an implication is this article is confusing. It is notable that in teaching the dogs to escape from their helpless passivity, Seligman and his colleagues rehearsed the dogs in escape behaviors, in a way that makes perfect sense in terms of Operant Conditioning. Accordingly, I have left out any reference to Skinner's work, and rewritten the phrase as: "the experimental conditioning protocol they used with dogs led to behaviors which were unexpected, in that under the experimental conditions, the recently conditioned dogs did not respond to opportunities to learn to escape from an unpleasant situation." (In revising this sentence in the article itself, I noted hidden text identifying the conditioning used as Classical or Respondent Conditioning. It was Operant Conditioning. The main focus of Skinner's work was on Operant Conditioning, and on how it is quite different from the paradigm described by Pavlov. Maybe this is not such a small revision after all, when one discovers confusions between Pavlovian and Skinnerian theory mistakenly embedded in a recently written piece of Wikipedia text.) Janice Vian, Ph.D. (talk) 18:55, 29 January 2017 (UTC)

Seligman on his own experiments[edit]

I think if we keep the section about how Seligman "tortured dogs" (which is at the moment written in a very accusatory way), the following quotation by Seligman himself on the issue will be useful in framing the conversation. He said, in his book Flourish, "I should mention that this experiment- published in Science in 1982- was the last time that I have been involved in an animal experiment, and I want to tell you why: on the ethical side, I am an animal lover- my life has continually been enriched by our dogs at home. So I found it very difficult to inflict suffering on animals for any purpose at all, even a humanitarian purpose." (Seligman, 2011, page 187) Really, we should add the SELIGMAN HIMSELF CONDONES THE EXPERIMENTS. Hugely important part of the puzzle here! I'd like a consensus before making this change, however. Skiingxmoose (talk) 19:22, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

Improving references[edit]

Esrever, you may want to give specific suggestion on improvements to references. -DoctorW 05:49, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

One change: 1991 Learned Optimism. I have a Penguin paperback copy from 1998. Citation lists a Free Press reissue from the same year. They both list the same ISBN. For now, I have merged the two, and extended slightly (full title). Does anyone know if, indeed, both of these publication events occurred, and in the same year? Jmacwiki (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 06:27, 13 November 2009 (UTC).

Father of ...?[edit]

I'm sure the The Daily Pennsylvanian is a fine student newspaper, but why should we think one of its contributors is in a position to determine who is the "father of modern psychology"? Whatever that even means. (talk) 02:58, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

I agree with you! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:30, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Homosexuality and aversion therapy[edit]

I find it highly disturbing that the discussion on this page of the use of aversion therapy to "cure" homosexuality is couched solely in terms of the technique's effectiveness. The notion that homosexuality needs to be cured was (and remains) inherently flawed. The techniques lauded by Seligman amounted to anti-gay torture. If he had used aversion therapy in an attempt to convert heterosexuals to homosexuals, would the primary discussion be about the effectiveness of the technique? Hbortman (talk) 20:27, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Seligman never lauded anything in the source cited. He is a scientist who was investigating the roots of homosexual desire and hebavior and its pervasiveness and persistence. If you actually read the source that is cited, you will find that Seligman is a vocal advocate for the view that homosexuality is impossible to change and change should not be attempted. Furthermore, he prescribes sex-change as the best course for transexuals above any other course of action.
It is flawed. But was it in fact regarded as flawed by the scientific (or therapy) community in 1966? And does he still "laud" the techniques? The answers determine the appropriate wording for the article (even though we should acknowledge that flaw in some way). Jmacwiki (talk) 05:18, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
The participants were volunteers, and they were doing an experiment to see how behavior might change, not because they thought it needed changing, necessarily. This makes two terribly egregious misrepresentations of Seligman's work in one article, and I wonder what agenda may have motivated the author of those passages.
The article makes it clear, that Seligman did believe that he could change sexual orientation, and that later he realized his experiments were flawed. I disagree with him even trying but facts are facts. I don't think that posting facts should be considered agenda pushing. The way it was rewritten hwoever, is based on the fear that others might misrepresent Seligman's findings for their own prejudice. That shouldn't be a factor in an encyclopedic article. Even one as weak as wikipedia. (talk) 21:55, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Attributional theory[edit]

Added a mention of Seligman and Abramson's attributional reformulation to learned helplessness. Citation to follow. Alindsay9 (talk) 22:10, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Added citation for attributional style. Alindsay9 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:06, 26 January 2012 (UTC).


The text about PERMA is very weakly/poorly written. I may come back to this and try to rewrite it.

"While presenting "Flourish" to the Royal Society of Arts,[12] Seligman articulated an account of the good life, which consisted of five elements under the acronym PERMA:"

It's weird to open the statement the it is, because the book "Flourish" has been released and he very thoroughly defines PERMA in the book. I think however, it would be nice to read someone elses summary of PERMA online. It might be useful mentioning how PERMA was derived. Skiingxmoose (talk) 05:19, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

I made the edits needed to reflect these wants. I think it need some clean-up though Skiingxmoose (talk) 00:13, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Martin Seligman/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

This seems to be heavily biases towards his current work, almost an advertisement of sorts. This article needs to be contrasted with his work on learned helplessness.

Last edited at 17:43, 15 May 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 23:19, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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