Having a problem and feeling helpless about it? Well, in that case, why don't you try being alone, for a new research on rats has shown that being on your own might help in avoiding uncontrollable situations.
The study, led by Dr. Richard Shuster at the University of Haifa, found laboratory rats that were on their own when exposed to uncontrollable conditions, which create a feeling of helplessness, learned to avoid situations which create such feelings better than rats that were exposed to uncontrollable conditions in pairs.
The analysis revealed that rats, exposed to a situation in which they were powerless, for instance, electric shocks that they couldn't possibly avoid, had a more difficult time learning how to avoid them in the future as compared to rats that were never exposed to situations of helplessness, a phenomenon known as 'learned helplessness'.
Dr. Qutaiba Agbaria, under the supervision of Dr. Richard Shuster, scrutinised the differences in learned helplessness among rats that were exposed to uncontrollable conditions alone and in pairs.
Agbaria commenced with the hypothesis that rats would learn to be more adaptable in social situations, or in pairs.
However, the results were quite the opposite. The analysis found that the rats that were exposed to uncontrollable conditions in pairs coped less well when they were no longer in uncontrollable situations than rats that were exposed to these situations alone.
"Now that we have see that 'learned helplessness' can be 'unlearned', we should continue to examine whether this change is a result of exposure to a rat that was not exposed to helplessness or rather that the social behaviour between the two animals has another meaning," said Agbaria.