Learned Helplessness

Learned Helplessness is a 20-item measure comprising five factors including internality-externality, global-specific learned helplessness, stability-instability, beliefs related to ability to control or predict outcomes and individual’s choice of situations wherein one intentionally participates.


Geographies Tested: United States of America

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adolescents, Adults


  1. No matter how much energy I put into a task, I feel I have no control over the outcome.
  2. I feel that my own inability to solve problems is the cause of my failures.
  3. I cannot find solutions to difficult problems.
  4. I don’t place myself in situations in which I cannot.
  5. If I complete a task successfully, it is probably because I became lucky.
  6. I do not have the ability to solve most of life’s problems.
  7. When I do not succeed at a task I do not attempt any similar tasks because I feel that I will fail them also.
  8. When something doesn’t turn out the way I planned, I know it is because I didn’t have the ability to start with.
  9. Other people have more control over their success andor failure than I do.
  10. I do not try a new task if I have failed similar tasks in the past.
  11. When I perform poorly it is because I don’t have the ability to perform better.
  12. I do not accept a task that I do not think I will succeed in.
  13. I feel that I have little control over the outcomes of my work.
  14. I am unsuccessful at most tasks I try.
  15. I feel that anyone else could do better than me in most tasks.
  16. I am unable to reach my goals in life.
  17. When I don’t succeed at a task, I find myself blaming my own stupidity for my failure.
  18. No matter how hard I try, things never seem to work out the way I want them to.
  19. I feel that my success reflects chance, not my ability.
  20. My behavior does not seem to influence the success of a work group.

Response Options:
Strongly Agree
Strongly Disagree

Scoring Procedures

Total scores can range from 20 to 80, with higher scores indicating increased perception of learned helplessness.

Original Citation

Quinless, F. W., & Nelson, M. M. (1988). Development of a measure of learned helplessness. Nursing Research.

Psychometric Score

Ease of Use Score

Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








Criterion (gold-standard)



Ease of Use


Scoring Clarity


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