Learned Helplessness and Sexual Risk Taking in Adolescent and Young Adult African American Females
Research involving adolescent and young African American (AA) females has demonstrated that they face uncontrollable obstacles which can interfere with the negotiation of safer sexual behaviors. If these obstacles are perceived as uncontrollable, then these females may be at risk for the development of Learned Helplessness (LH). As the LH model predicts, if these obstacles are believed not to be in their control, it may lead to deficits in motivational or cognitive decision-making, deficits that could certainly influence their sexual risk taking behaviors. Therefore, the primary objective for this pilot study was to trial the Learned Helplessness Scale (LHS) to examine the perceptions of LH in this population. A convenience sample of 50 adolescent and young AA females between the ages of 16 and 21 were recruited from two clinics in Southeast Michigan. Scores on the LHS ranged from 20 to 57, with a mean score of 39.1 (standard deviation = 10.49). The higher range of scores in the sample demonstrates a continuum of LH among the participants in the study.